SS2Massey University’s new migrants director Professor Shaista Shameem says  New Zealand First leader Winston Peters risks serious harm to new migrant communities in New Zealand with his speech on immigration yesterday.

“Mr Peters does not realise just how much distress he is causing the new migrant communities in New Zealand when he takes to the podium to make the kinds of remarks he made in his state of the nation address in Auckland,” Professor Shameem says.

“Such speeches have the effect of encouraging and facilitating outright racism against new migrants in New Zealand and cause serious harm to the safety and security of minority groups who have made their home here. 

“Before launching his anti-immigration missiles, Mr Peters should take a moment to consider how his words can make migrant children suffer as targets of racial violence in the playground and classrooms. He should also consider how his speeches have the effect of causing direct and indirect discrimination in the workplace. Many employers, fuelled by the words of an accomplished politician such as Mr Peters, make life very difficult for their new migrant workers through exploitation, humiliation and abuse. 

“Immigration to New Zealand does not benefit only migrants, as Mr Peters alleges. While many of them face tough challenges at first, most end up making a better life for themselves and their families and, in the process, help make New Zealand more cosmopolitan and vibrant. We all know that new migrants contribute to expanding the cultural capital of New Zealand.

“Mr Peters should also realise that his speeches against immigration have the inevitable effect of causing harm to the already vulnerable members of migrant groups. Women and children of minority populations in particular are not in a position to protect themselves from being targets of racial hatred caused by the thoughtless and dangerous comments that Mr Peters often lets loose on the general public.

“Mr Peters may well have a point or two to make about past and present governments’ migration policies; however, he should try to make those points without encouraging entrenchment of existing ethnic prejudices in our society.”