Calls for more ethnic representation in politics
Mon, 16 Jul 2012 10:41a.m.
By Melissa Low
A Young Labour Party member says New Zealand politics needs to find ways to appeal to people of diverse backgrounds.
Soraiya Daud, a 23-year-old Auckland University student, says she saw a lack of ethnic representation at a Young Labour Party conference and she would like to see more young ethnic people get involved in politics. Daud, who is a New Zealand-born Indo-Fijian, has been involved with Young Labour for the past four years. She says attitudes need to change if true representation is to be achieved.
Adapt to needs
“Organisations have to change and have to realise they have to adapt to deal with the needs of young ethnic people,” she says. “They struggle with that because it’s based particularly on what young Pakeha – politically active people – are interested in and want to do.” Becoming a diverse organisation means more than the inclusion of a few minority backgrounds, says Daud. “We have to be aware that ethnic diversity doesn’t mean another couple of groups into the mix.”
Daud says young people from ethnic backgrounds may struggle getting involved in politics for a number of different reasons, including the pressure to succeed academically at university. “If you’re a first generation immigrant, and you have to try really hard to succeed… doing all these extra-curricular activities can jeopardise your other stuff. It may not, but it can be difficult to manage all of that.”
She also says young ethnic people joining political organisations like the Young Labour Party need to get a worthwhile meaningful experience in order to stay an active member. “My main concern, particularly because of the demographic that I’m in, is around what happens to those second, third, fourth, fifth generation people of minority backgrounds, and how they engage in politics because I don’t think there’s places for them yet.”
Minority role models
Daud says there is a need for good role models in New Zealand politics for the younger politicians to aspire to. She considers former Prime Minister Helen Clark as being a great role model for females in politics, but does not think there has yet been an ethnic role model to “forge a way in [New Zealand] politics”. “I don’t know who those [role models] are going to be in the future, but I think that the day we have people in Parliament from minority backgrounds who have never not been New Zealanders, that will be the day that we would have shifted in our New Zealand identity.”
Daud’s involvement in the Young Labour Party was recently documented for the New Zealand-produced show, Both Worlds. The series follows the different lives of ten young second generation New Zealanders and their personal stories of living within two cultures. Producer for the series Julia Parnell says the people focused on the show are people navigating between their cultural heritage and ethnic traditions with their identity of growing up as a “Kiwi”.
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17/07/2012 1:27:22 a.m.
ya know, i see people go on about 'ethnic' whatever like this, and i find it slightly insulting. first of it seems to imply that 'New Zealand European' or whatever we're calling it these days is NOT an ethnicity (which raises some odd questions in it's own right) then it implies that the genetic traits of ones ancestors has more effect on one's views and position in life than one's own personality, experience, and ability. further, it directly reinforces racism. first, it fosters resentment over some getting extra privileges, or special allowances based on ethnicity rather than their actual skills, ability, or work, and two, it holds up one's race as the most defining feature of a person and something that needs to be considered as a major point in how others interact with one.
Honestly, people are people. if you want something changed in how things are done, rather than playing the race card (and ethnicity is just another word for that), actually put some effort into getting it done.
yes, people, consciously or not, discriminate based on such things, but drawing more attention to the difference rather than the fact that, as a person, your views are significant, just makes that worse as people naturally fight back against what appears to be an attack against their views and place in life.
hopefully my point here is clear.
if your third or fourth generation individual has not sufficiently assimilated to the culture of the nation in question to be able to function within it as simply another citizen, there is an entirely different set of issues to be dealt with.
if nothing else, this: multi-multiculturalism is NOT an ideal to aspire to. it is a natural and healthy part of the process of assimilation, but the point of assimilation is for the main culture to acquire anything useful and beneficial from that of the immigrants, and then for the immigrants to become part of that resulting culture. deliberately maintaining separate cultures just causes division.
16/07/2012 4:30:05 p.m.
Great, now all they have too do is earn that right like the rest of us and not think it has to be handed to them on a plate like in the UK.
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