New Zealanders in NZ Census

The New Zealand 2006 census takes place on Tuesday 7 March. This will be the second census I’ve missed. I see that this year people can fill out the form on the internet. Good move. Of course there’s a level of security that prevents overseas people from taking part.

There’s an email doing the rounds in NZ suggesting that when it comes to the section on ethnicity, people write ‘New Zealander’. Seems to me that this proposal mixes up the two concepts of nationality and ethnicity.

Usually people who attempt to flatten difference are members of a dominant set of people who would rather not have to explore ways in which they are different to anyone else. “It’s those other people who are different.”

So what would I put if I was filling out the form? Not ‘Pakeha’ as that is more a description of my not being Maori than a description of my ethnicity. I think I’d have trouble with New Zealand European as that brushes broad strokes over ethnicity. I definitely wouldn’t put ‘Anglo-Saxon’. Maybe ‘Anglo-Celtic’ with a touch of the Pacific. Or perhaps I could just write ‘Pacific Highlander’.

Here’s the text of the email:

Did you know that New Zealand is pretty much the only place in the world that you can not actually be a New Zealander?

Whenever you fill out a form or survey in New Zealand you can tick the box to say you are Maori, Tongan, Samoan, Australian, European (or NZ born of European Descent), Asian, etc but there is no box provided to say “Yes, I am a New Zealander and I am proud to be one”.

In Australia, you can be an Australian… In fact in Australia you can be a New Zealander. Why is it that we can’t be New Zealanders in our own country?

Most people are proud of their ethnicity, heritage and family origins and so will tick whichever box they feel applies to them, and they have every right to do so whether they are Maori, Pacific Islander, European etc

Many of us however consider that we, and our families, have been in New Zealand for long enough now that we should be able to claim that as who we are…regardless of where our ancestors may have come from many centuries ago or what the colour of our skin or shape of our face might indicate.

If you support us in our desire to be recognised as New Zealanders in our own country then there is only one way that this can be achieved…

On the 2006 NZ Census form, when you are asked for your ethnicity, choose the option “Other” and state your ethnicity as “New Zealander”

If we can get enough people to do this then maybe, just maybe, we can get the powers that be to sit up and recognise that we are proud of who we are and that we want to be recognised as such, not divided into sub-categories and all treated as foreigners in our own country.

Please forward this on to as many people as you can; friends, people you work with, kiwi’s you know who are overseas, anyone… No, you won’t receive amazing good luck by doing so but you will have the knowledge that you have done your bit to help us, as New Zealanders, fight for our right to be recognised as who we are in this proud and strong country of ours.

And remember… at census time… “Other – New Zealander!” (and proud of it)

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