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How Have Chinese and Indian Immigrant Experience in New Zealand Differed? What Are the Crucial Factors Involved?

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Migration has always been a major power in all history, but none more so than the last 150 years. People from all places of the globe have moved in unparalleled numbers and in numerous directions. Generated primary by colonial, then postcolonial geopolitical and economic reality, migration resulted in the arrangement of new societies. These communities became a place where beliefs, traditions and cultural practices from the migrants' country of origin were met with the host society. Some were lost, others continued unaffected and most were modified and adapted.

Previously and continuing today, migration has played a major role in population change in New Zealand (Ip, 2003). Changes in the immigration policies of New Zealand since 1987 saw an abundant of Asians migrating to the land of New Zealand. These changes opened up a mixture of immigration where entry to New Zealand was once based on skills chosen or needed in the place of work which inevitably, large numbers of new and diverse immigrants developed in New Zealand. It was then that migration (in particular from Asia ) grew rapidly, with China and India amongst the largest numbers to the growing population ( Poulsen, M., Johnston, R., & Forrest, J, 2000). This essay will solely focus on these two races (Chinese and Indian) explaining the differences in migration experiences.

Both the Chinese and the Indian groups primarily came to New Zealand in seek of economic betterment ( Sauers, D. A, 1993). The original migrants from both countries came from the landed rural peasantry. For both groups, 'sojourning' (the intent to go back to India and China with the fruits of economic gains) and 'chain migration' (migrants that were already in New Zealand encouraging family and friends to also migrate) were imminent features of early contact.( Sauers, D. A, 1993). But since changed once the New Zealand government altered its official policy towards 'non-white' immigrants resulting in the migrants who had arrived (thought as sojourners)to decide immediately whether to go back home or settle permanently. Most left, but a few stayed and formed the backbone of the New Zealand Asian community we see today.

The fundamental reasoning for dissension of migrants was their extensive difference in race and culture from the European, in which New Zealand was fitted for European colonisation and was governed by Europeans ( Banton, M, 2000). The term 'White New Zealand' was the main means to this. In 1879 Sir George Grey described in order to keep New Zealand 'white' then New Zealanders were to be white, and would need to be protected from the non-whites. He quotes,

" the future of the islands of the pacific ocean depends upon the inhabitants of New Zealand being true to themselves, and preserving uninjured and unmixed that Anglo-Saxon population which now inhabits it"( Banton, M, 2000; pg 485).

He further speaks of the particular danger of the Chinese race.

' The presence in this country of a large population of Chinese would exercise a deteriorating effect upon its civilization.'(Banton, M, 2000; pg 487)

Chinese were seen as a moral, social, religious, health and economic threat, and therefore had to be kept out of New Zealand at all costs (Murphy, 1996). Maintaining New Zealand as a 'white' society and protecting the living values of European New Zealanders was the principle of all the laws and policies endorsed against the Chinese.

The Chinese have been in New Zealand for over 130 years. The Chinese - the first non-Maori, non-European to migrate in groups to New Zealand did so because of two Otago invitations to Cantonese goldseekers in 1865. However, they kept a sojourner outlook for a long period suffering discrimination due to their competition with European. In attempt to maintain a White New Zealand, several Acts were passed to try to restrict the Chinese and other non-European immigration in New Zealand (Fitzgerald, 2007).

The Chinese Immigrants Act 1881

The Chinese Immigrants Act 1881 initiated an entry poll tax of £10 for each Chinese immigrant. The government figured that the class of Chinese who wanted to migrate to New Zealand would not be able to pay such figures. Of course many could, but the poll tax did its purpose by slowing the numbers of Chinese migrating, so in that respect the government was winning. But since the Chinese continued to arrive, in 1896 New Zealand government determined the increase of the poll tax from ₤10 to ₤100. (For the Chinese, this figure was equivalent to four to six years earning at the time) (Murphy, 1996).

The Act also restricted the amount of Chinese immigrants allowed on incoming immigrant ships to one Chinese per 10 tons of cargo. In 1888 the ratio was later then changed to one Chinese per 100 tons of cargo. Furthermore, in 1896 (same time the poll-tax was raised) this ratio changed to a ridiculous one Chinese immigrant to 200 tons of cargo. Of course this Act was applied only to the Chinese race ( Nigel Murphy, 1996).

The Chinese Immigrants Amendment Act 1907

As language was one of the barriers between the Chinese and European, in addition to the £100 poll-tax the 1907 Chinese Immigrants Amendment Act agreed that the Chinese had to pass an additional English-language reading test in which they had to read out 100 English words in front of customs officials. (Ip, 2003).

The Immigration Restriction Act 1899

In 1899 the first restriction on Non-European immigrants other than the Chinese was formed. The 1899 act was not aimed clearly at Asians but it prohibited the entry of immigrants who were not of British descent and who could not fill out an application form 'in any European language' - which in New Zealand solely meant English (Ip, 2003).

Although these rules were in place the next 20 years the application form itself was standard, therefore applicants could merely memorise a few lines of English. The requirement was used, however, mainly to keep Chinese and Indians out (Ip, 2003).

The Immigration Restriction Amendment Act 1920

A more effective system was introduced in the 1920 Act when the Immigration Restriction Amendment Act launched an individual permit system whereby migration to New Zealand was solely by application only. Permits were then only granted at the judgment of the Minister of Customs. In other words, it was the Governments choice as to who could migrate to New Zealand. This act was not liable to the British and most Western European immigrants. The policy which continued to the late



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