Britons considering making a fresh start in New Zealand might find a less than warm welcome awaiting them after Maori politicians demanded curbs on immigration to the islands.
Lured by the attractive climate, majestic scenery, a high standard of living and the use of English, thousands leave the United Kingdom each year to make new lives on the other side of the globe.
Maori warriors: Maori leaders believe there is a campaign to prevent the ‘browning’ of the country
But yesterday Maori nationalists called on the government in Wellington to limit the number of migrants from Britain.
They accused the government of running a secret campaign to prevent the “browning of New Zealand” by encouraging large numbers of white immigrants so that they outnumber those of Pacific and Asian origin who would align themselves with the Maori minority.
The proportion of Maori in the population, currently 13 per cent, is expected to grow rapidly over the next few decades because their birthrate is more than twice that of white New Zealanders.
The number of non-Maori New Zealanders would be falling without the net gain from immigration, mainly because tens of thousands leave for Australia every year.
Tariana Turia, the founder and co-leader of the Maori Party which holds four seats in parliament, said: “What we are talking about is the number of people coming into this country and what that means for Maori political representation. The prediction is that we are going to see a considerable browning of New Zealand with Maori, Pacific islanders and Asians, and maybe this is the way the government combats it.
“We aren’t playing the race card because we are not talking about Asian immigration.”
Maoris want New Zealand to get browner.