Migrant Action condemns NZ nation-building course idea as ‘discriminating’

Aotearoa passport cover
Aotearoa New Zealand citizenship and permanent residence ... controversy over "nation-building" courses proposal. Image: APR

Asia Pacific Report newsdesk

The Migrant Action Trust has condemned a proposal by a diversity academic calling for a New Zealand nation-building course before people are granted permanent residence or citizenship as “dangerous” and “discriminating”.

“This proposal is dangerous. It is dangerous because it comes at a time when the world — including Aotearoa — has demonised a religion and those associated with that religion,” the trust said.

“We have inculcated in the minds of others that ‘these people’, and by association, all people of colour are a danger.

“That is a dangerous, discriminating, and damaging legacy. Just ask Māori.”

The call for a “specific nation-building” course for potential citizens of Aotearoa has been made by Professor Edwina Pio, chair of diversity at Auckland University of Technology.

She made the plea in a paper titled “Diffusing Destructive Devotions: Deploying Counter Terrorism” days after last Friday’s knife attack at Auckland’s Countdown supermarket in LynnMall.

But the Migrant Action Trust chair, Associate Professor Camille Nakhid, described the proposal as “cynical”, saying it raised many questions.

‘Values of our colonisers?’
“Firstly, whose values will inform this nation-building paper? Will they be the values of the colonisers or of our tangata whenua? Will it be the values of those whose labour built this land or those whose dubious transactions stole this land?,” Dr Nakhid asked in a statement.

“Will it be the refugee with the ideologies of terrorist groups or the resident Pākehā with the ideologies of terrorist Pākehā  groups which hold the ideologies of the dominant Pākehā group which hold the ideologies of white supremacists?

“Who will be made to take this nation-building paper? Will it only be potential citizens such as migrants, asylum seekers and those from refugee backgrounds but not those wanting to remain permanent residents?

“What about citizens themselves who mistrust the government, challenge their laws and protest their policies?

“Will they need to go back to school to take this nation-building paper?”

Dr Pio’s research had found lone terrorists to be “dangerous and hard to combat” when compared to group terrorists.

She said “higher impact” policies were needed to combat terrorism and she called for legislation to require people to pass nation-building courses before being granted citizenship or permanent residence.

A Sri Lankan-born refugee, Ahamed Aathil Mohamed Samsudeen, 32, stabbed seven people in the Countdown supermarket before he was shot dead by police.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described the Islamic State supporter as a “lone wolf terrorist”.


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