Population Growth, Immigration and Ihumātao

Why can we not have an honest and open debate about population growth and immigration in Aotearoa-New Zealand, without the debate rapidly deteriorating into name calling and accusations of racism and xenophobia.

The ongoing Ihumātao protests and ensuing debate recently bought to this to a head where Māori Council executive director Matthew Tukaki was accused of “xenophobic dog whistling” by a television show host for daring to make the suggestion that the standoff over a housing development at Ihumātao may be a symptom of too much migration.

Currently, in New Zealand, immigration accounts for around two thirds of population growth. Therefore, if any link is to be made between the continued swallowing up of green-field land and New Zealand’s rapid rate of population growth, then a discussion of immigration levels has to be part of the mix. It should be sobering to most – for a number of reasons – that net migration into New Zealand in the past 5 years has exceeded that of the first 50 years after the Treaty of Waitangi was signed.

Therefore, Maori and all New Zealanders, have every right to question whether too much migration is resulting in social and environmental ailments. Not only is culturally sensitive land, such as Ihumātao, under pressure from development to house New Zealand’s burgeoning population; so too is agriculturally sensitive land, such the arable land surrounding Pukekohe, or ecologically sensitive land in many locations around New Zealand.

Numerous times in this blog I have stated that ongoing population growth – via natural growth or immigration – is not compatible with long-term sustainability. New Zealand has one of the fastest rates of population growth in the developed world. Can we please have an honest and open debate on population growth and immigration regardless of how uncomfortable it may make us feel. We owe it to future generations.

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