The Other Wellington Report.


In response to The Wellington Report by The Dominion Post. Because the voice of the ‘other’ is missing so how can it be a balanced report? See for yourself. All Pakeha faces and voices. No tangata whenua (Maori), no Pacific, no Chinese/Indian/Middle Eastern/other ethnic migrants or refugees. Not even international students. When Wellington and the surrounding region has three universities whose business is dependent on all those foreigners paying high fees.

So what does one make of this exclusion? That The Dom Post is racist? Or that the editor has no imagination?

Now I can be labelled Just Another F$%^%ng Auckland, JAFA come lately on the hills of this little capital. Fair enough. I lived in Auckland for eleven years so I am attached to that place but I am also a wanderer. Life brought me to Wellington and ten years from now I might be Berlin or Hong Kong, my favourite cities. I cannot predict. The only thing I’ve learnt is that wherever I live I must take ownership of that place, to immerse myself in it, to participate, to give rather than take. So I am.

The Dummy’s analysis of The (One-Sided/Racist/Unimaginative) Wellington Report.

The no-brainers:

  • That Wellington airport needs a longer runway to bring in international flights
  • That the region needs to be unified to make better economic sense
  • That we need to be attractive to businesses and the creative sector.

(Note: Pakeha businesses from the Western world and creatives only from Hollywood or from Asia too? Guess who has the money? ;-))

  • That Wellington and region should not be dependent only on government.
  • That we need better infrastructure in terms of motorways and digital connectivity.
  • That all the above will attract jobs to the city and rejuvenate it.
  • The above will also attract tourists and make it the coolest little capital again.

D-uh. A Somali from Newtown could’ve told you that (but the editor didn’t think of asking perhaps).

Waste of space 1:

  • Jo Coughlan talks about her daughter not finding a seat in any restaurant on the Queen’s Birthday holiday. That is how buzzing Wellington is.

Question: Did the daughter just go to Courtenay Place/Cuba Mall (because that is her idea of Wellington)? If there were more restaurants in buzzing suburbs then she might have found a seat? And she did not think of going to Jackson St, Petone? Too downmarket and working class? Oh but that is not Wellington. My bad.

One more question: Why does Kelburn, the centre of Victoria University, not have more student based commerce such as cheap eating places, bubble tea and karaoke bars?

The  Top Cuisine Food Bar in Marsden Village, Karori, makes a mean black bean chicken. Why does he not open a yum cha place, I asked him. Too dead he says. Maybe instead of always having to go into town to eat at a restaurant, people could detour to a suburb if they had a choice? East Asian students from Kelburn could pop over too?

Waste of space 2:

In her column about Wellington, Rosemary McLeod spoke only about botoxed Auckland women and the ugly houses on Paritai Drive.

D-U-D-E, even Aucklanders don’t care about botoxed women and the houses on Paritai Drive. There is so much else going on.

Big, big chip on the shoulder and existing in a really, really small world. She does eh?

Besides, comparing Oriental Bay with ‘any Auckland beach’ is an even bigger waste of precious space. It is like arguing with geography. Each place has its own charm.

Conclusion: Some Wellingtonians need to get a life and many have a fixation with Auckland. All the other important types The Dom Post featured are afraid of the coloured people coming in their precious city even though they know that the empire is gone.

‘Other’ ideas:

A city is made up of people; is because of the people. If a large part of the local population is excluded from any discourse about its identity and future, then how would people have a sense of belonging? How will they contribute, why should they contribute? Wellingtonians, as constructed by The Dom Post, are rich, white, hip, caffeine consuming politicians, creatives or businesspeople who live in their own little world; whose concept of existence comes from the West. As if detached from global realities and from the local requirements of the hoi polloi. They only talk to themselves about themselves.

New Zealand as a whole needs migrants and skilled labour. Wellington does too if dependence on government employment has to be minimised. With this new population will come commerce, diversity, new ideas and a new buzz because this new population will not be from England. Those days are gone and the days when migrant labour was imported, only to set them up in ghettos before Dawn Raids.  This new population will be global, of those travelling where there is work; of transnational people who might choose to stay if they like the life, if they have the diversity and variety. That is the discourse to be had. But if The Dom Post does not see this new citizen of the city, only whiteness, then those in there are merely meditating on their umbilicals. In a fear-of-change fashion.

Wellington is sister city to Beijing. Not a single word about how that relationship can be enhanced. (Gawd, more Asians! What does one talk about to these Orientals? Not cricket eh old chap?)

If we were sister city to L.A. might the report be orgasmic about it then?

Wellington can learn a lot from my two favourite cities-Berlin and Hong Kong. One with a small land mass and fear of damage from cyclones and tornadoes. Yet HK is defiantly democratic with the speediest internest in the world, a strong economy, big film industry and vibrant expatriate community that only adds to the madness and buzz. It is also a tourist destination. A walk through Kowloon at any time will prove that. Berlin, flat and wide, with a history of devastation through war and political division yet rebuilt again and again. Bergmanstrasse, Kreuzberg, Freidrichshain…how many buzzing suburbs, a strong heritage and culture, amazing architecture, migrants ranging from North Africa to Turkey, Vietnam and Korea that add to the vibe. Plus lots of introspection about Germany’s history.

Why? Because both cities welcome people from all over the world.

Wellington does not have to look at Auckland but at the people who live here, the coloured other, the tangata whenua. They are not going to go away by ignoring them as The Racist Wellington Report does. Because they are the people of this city, the present and the future. They will stand up and be visible. One day. Soon. That is The Other Wellington Report.

White Women in the Indian Imagination: Alexandra Delaney


An interesting post. Many things the writer says are true including the Indian male gaze but she completely bypasses that such behaviour is more than a local cultural, social or religious product, that globalisation and the free market have actually underscored even more, the idea of Indianness and ‘the other’; that the notion of feminism is deeply entrenched in the Indian imagination, male or female, as a white, Western concept of disregard, disrespect and disruption (because the original movement never considered non-Western, coloured women and their environments, still does not). The sustained portrayal of Caucasian women as loose and easy is a result of all the above, unfortunately.
….maybe this calls for a post of my own because it is beyond the simplistic discourse that Ms Delaney presents. It is a brave post anyway.

KAFILA - 12 YEARS OF A COMMON JOURNEY

This is a guest post by ALEXANDRA DELANEY: 

“Yeah, Indian guys think white girls are easy”, a British-born Indian remarked nonchalantly to me this week. Normally I’d be shocked by such gross racial stereotyping (of Indians) but in this case I’m inclined to agree. Not because Caucasian women by their very skin colour or cultural preferences are any more promiscuous than their South Asian sisters, but because of their sustained portrayal as loose and morally deficient. The image of the sexually liberated and ‘easy’ white woman runs deep in the Indian imagination, a perception which is drip-fed by the country’s all-pervading mainstream media.

The brutal rape and murder of an Indian student in New Delhi last December followed by numerous sexual attacks on foreign women has sparked international outrage. This year alone, a Chinese woman was date-raped in New Delhi, a Korean woman was raped after being drugged in Bhopal…

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Three Months And A Wellingtonian Yet?


The jury is still out. It is too early to tell. But I am trying. Last month I visited Auckland for a weekend. As the Airbus rumbled along Dominion Rd I noticed the new shops that had sprung up. An entire road the size of Lambton Quay, Courtenay Place, Cuba Mall, other bits of central Wellington put together. Buzzing and vibrant. DIVERSE. Then I told myself I should not complain, I should try.

Wellington is picturesque. Every day I drive to and from Porirua to Karori along the water and last week when it hailed on us, the snow streaked hills lining the harbour made for a stunning sight. I almost crashed my car stealing glances at the lovely view. Umm. That’s about it. Nah. 🙂

I got my first parking ticket in the last week of April. Signs of settling in, I think. Still to find the mythical free car park but I have an infringement notice.

Meanwhile I continue to battle the low water pressure. You see, the shower rose goes through the cold water first before it can deliver any water that is warm.  See this contraption?

That is the two tap pipe that brings water from the cold tap and hot tap through a single pipe into my bucket so I can have a decent bucket bath. Selling like hot cakes in the low pressure plumbing world of Wellington. My landlady’s plumber told her there is no hot water problem when I complained. He, I assume, who can live without his clothes in Alpine conditions, shrivelled body parts and potentially damaged lungs. So I have third world problems in a first world country. Bucket baths in a bathtub not built for that purpose. This contraption cannot be used as a shower because guess what happens when the pipe is lifted above the level of the taps? Physics, my dear Watson. The shower is now part of my imagination.

Aren’t we migrants lucky to be hardy? And then we stand up to make noise and complain. 😀 She ain’t gonna be right ‘coz she need fixing.

A friend once said to me that the pioneers who came from ye olde England/Scotland/remnants of the British Raj always wanted to go ‘back home’ so they built cold, damp houses here which constantly reminded them that it was temporary.

Think. Any new settlers would learn from the natives about habitation that suits the local climate. Warm and dry in the winter, relatively airy in the summer. Instead it was all about civilising the barbarians and imitating buildings from ‘home’. Then all got asthma and/or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, suffering from their ill abodes. Which bright spark would build a low pressure water system across the hills of Wellington? Hence I wash my thick, long hair from a bucket.

But like I said at the top, no more complaining. It is important to try and my philosophy in life has been to take charge of things so I can make the change. If I believe Wellington needs to be more than four streets and the five hipsters who work at start ups or in the creative industry, if this city needs more diversity, more migrants, more commerce, a united region, an international airport out beyond Whitby or those parts and outspoken leaders; new blood, not the fuddy-duddy, marbles-in-the-mouth Pakeha minority with a blinkered world view then I am going to work on it. So next week I am meeting Jack Yan‘s team to see how I can help him for the Wellington mayoral elections.

Considering that I might be living here for the next few years and might become a Wellingtonian yet.

By the way, Wellington does have a wonderful public transport system. Except that the last bus leaves the airport at 8.30pm.

First Week Of A New Life.


One week in a new city and I am finding my way around. Of course now I know the way to work, the short cuts to avoid steep roads and long waits at the lights on the morning commute to the motorway. It takes me between 20-25 minutes to get to work even with the minor jams on Tinakori Road. To an ex-Aucklander that is the time I would take to go from one end of the Ponsonby Road to the other at 40K during the morning peak traffic hours whether by car or on the Link Bus. This drive to Porirua is a piece of cake. So that is sorted.

After a week of unpacking and starting work it was time to go into the city and hang around, understand the bus routes and browse the shops. Wellington has some quirky fashion stores ranging from designer clothes to second hand, recycled, hand made everything. Wellingtonians dress more laid back than Aucklanders but what was obviously missing was the Asian influence. None of the kawaii, or the East Asian style Western clothes that Gwen Stefani tries so hard to copy for her fashion line Harajuku Lovers. Not even the East Asians on Cuba St. had that look. I guess I’d have to travel regularly to Auckland to get my fill.

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But what one needs when settling in a new town is the Asian grocery stores. Where do I get my rice, my papads, the pickles, the savouries, the lentils? Will they be the same as in Auckland? Will I find packets of instant dosa and dhokla mix? Oh and where do I get my eyebrows threaded? Definitely not in the gora peoples’ beauty salons! Not at $20 a pop; not when I can get them done for $10 max.

Wellington is not as diverse as Auckland and I am probably going to have to travel further from home to get Asian groceries or my eyebrows trimmed. I do not even have any Indian female friends in Wellington and no point asking the guys. So it is going to be the trial and error technique. More grist for a blob post I suppose.

Arise Goddess Kali


I was going to write an end-of-the-year rant about my pet peeves within my smug little existence, trying to detach myself from the rape-protest drama in Delhi. Horrible, brutal crime, I told myself but I now live in New Zealand so should not be worried with what happens back home. I am safe here, I can wear what I like, do what I want, go out at any time of the night. I live alone, am independent, no one judges me. Sweet as. I was wrong. So, so wrong. This innocent young girl’s death has made me angry. Mad, stomping angry.

The last time I went to India, in 2010, men stared at my breasts as I walked the streets. Fully clothed in my khadi salwar-kurtas, not making eye contact with any unknown males, I used to go about  my work with men still coming up right in front of me, their eyes on my breasts. Then there was the time when a male bus passenger rubbed his penis against my shoulder as I sat in a crowded bus. He went on even as I slouched further into my seat contemplating whether to yell at him and make some noise or just let it go. That was my default setting. Like so many Indian women who grow up in India. Make yourself as inconspicuous as possible and even if you have to protest, think about it first because everyone, even other women, will turn around and tell you it is your fault. I mustered all my courage to yell at him and while he backed off slightly he yelled at me to ask what he had done. The implication being that I was just a mad woman to shout at him to stand straight and not lean against me; it is a crowded bus. How could I have asked him to keep his penis to himself and not on my shoulder? Is there a Hindi or Marathi word that a decent woman can use in public to describe the organ? If I’d spoken in English then I would have immediately been ‘modern’, further implying deterioration of my morality. Now I am in New Zealand. No catcalls from Indian men gathered at the end of each street, no one rubbing against me, groping me or staring at my breasts. In reset mode. Procrastinating any reaction to a young, innocent girl brutally raped, keeping it out my mindspace. Then she died. A life full of hope snuffed out. So I got mad, stomping angry. Mostly at myself. Somewhere in the comfort of reset mode compassion and empathy for my sisters was deleted. Besides, my intellectual snobbery stopped me from engaging in any discourse against the death sentence and stoning that the many Indians were calling out for. But now I want to plunge into it.

So I’ll start by arguing against the death sentence and stoning that so many Indians are demanding for the rapists. Stop; think. Did these six men just drop from the sky or are they a part of the Indian society? Where did they get their attitude towards women and violence? Or the idea that they could get away with such a brutal crime; that the police might not do anything? Indian governments of all ideologies have sanctioned rape in the name of suppressing rebellion and uprisings. When did middle class India last check the human rights record of the Indian Army against Kashmiri and North-Eastern women? Or the police raping tribal women in the Red Corridor? Or was it okay to use rape as a weapon for the safety of the rest of the Indians? The Culture Of Impunity and disrespect for women is not an aberration but ‘normal’ behaviour. So who deserves the death sentence? Indian soldiers? Indian police? Fathers that rape their daughters? Husbands that rape their wives? Brothers that rape their sisters? Politicians? Or we the people? For turning a blind eye?

Now let’s look at the prominent women who reacted to the rape.

Stoic Sonia-ji remained silent as per usual. Only to come make an appearance on television reading from the teleprompter.  Fake much?

Then there was Sushma-ji. The keeper of the virtue of us Hindu women said if the girl survives then she will be like the living dead. Not, (read subtext if you can through her boring lecture) because she had lost her intestines but because she was raped and would have no honour left.  Sushma-ji may I remind you that once upon a time you wanted all advertisements for sanitary napkins removed from television because they were a bad influence on us innocent Indian women. Perhaps we should have stayed at home five days a month and continued using old sarees to soak up our menstrual discharge? This way we would have been safer ya?

And finally Jaya-ji. The distress is genuine but to believe that because we worship so many goddesses Indian men actually respect women in real life?  Oh Jaya-ji, you are so naive. Only in our Bollywood films and only after we’ve had an item number in skimpy clothes and the man has tamed her and ‘saved her’ will the heroine find redemption in treating him like god. Only then will he respect her in return.

Overall the larger issue of the treatment of women remained unaddressed. What is it that makes Indian society treat Indian women shabbily? Here is one explanation. This is the story not just of one child who died after rape but many more who die before they are born, many who suffer because of insufficient dowry, domestic abuse, sexual abuse and abuse from institutions that are meant to protect them. Women like us and those not like us. This is the story of everyone’s attitude towards women as victims of sexual assault. Lawyer Flavia Agnes tells among other tales how the doctors examining a rape victim in Bangalore were more interested in the elasticity of her vagina than finding forensic evidence.

As India moves towards more economic liberalisation, with good or bad effect, society is bound to change and with that the Indian democracy. Which means we have to let go of the old absolutes of culture, tradition and religion that kept us rigid and inflexible; not reject them but adapt them.

For that to happen there has to be a revolution with a new leader. Not Narendra Modi, not Rahul Gandhi, not Anna Hazare, not Arvind Kejriwal and not Kiran Bedi. Not any of the right or left wing politicians but the people. The people will throw up their new leader. Before that will arise Kali, once again from the people, the power of the people, especially of the women. Because it is the women who will destroy the men who worship her then rape her before giving birth to him and nurturing him again.

New James Bond


While I procrastinate over my next post. (On cultural festivals organised by Auckland City-no it is not a repeat of my Diwali/Lantern Festival rants but an analysis and some questions as always), here is a fun post from one of my favourite blogs. I really enjoyed Skyfall but Idris Alba as James Bond should be cool. Like revisiting Shaft but with post-colonial discourse on the decline of empire instead of blaxploitation in the face of white elite, never mind Barack in the White House. 🙂

Meanwhile here is Isaac Hayes’s theme track for Shaft. Enjoy!

Africa is a Country (Old Site)


If you believe the rumours, sex appeal’s Idris Elba — half Sierra Leonean, half Ghanaian, fully a Londonerwill be the next James Bond, although Daniel Craig may clench and mumble his way through a couple more before that happens. If it does, Elba would be taking over at a very interesting moment for the Bond franchise, apparently now entering full-on postcolonial melancholia mode.

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Good Hair, More About It.


I see from my stats that I get a lot of hits on an old blog Good Hair; Fair Skin; Feminism Or What so here is a an article on hair extensions that might interest readers. The hair extension industry grew in Europe in spite of the recession. Not that much colouring, cutting and blow drying but lots of hair extensions.

The Hair Trade’s Dirty Secret is interesting because it talks not only about the range of hair extensions offered  (or that it is normalised now and no longer confined to the celebrity domain) but most importantly how customers don’t care which human head their extension comes from. Or that ‘fakeness’ has come to define female beauty.

If in his documentary Chris Rock bemoans about how the hair-products-for-African-Americans-industry is dominated by Asians he does not really touch upon the deep rooted poverty or economic difficulties of those women whose hair it is. Except for a quick trip to India and Tirupati, to see how devotees offer their hair to god, there is nothing about their exploitation. Would hair from a poor Indian woman’s head make an African-American female feel uncomfortable or does she just want to have hair like Kim Kardashian? No sisterhood of suffering here? Of course a feature length documentary is not enough to cover such complex issues.

I have thick, long, wavy hair, as I mentioned in the old post.  Some years ago I cut it all off and donated it to a wig maker who made wigs for cancer stricken women.

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My hair, as much as I could fit in the photo.

I could never offer it ‘god’ even though my hair is a source of joy and vanity and hence worthy of sacrifice (what would god do with it anyway?). So really it is the same old story of tax free temple authorities, in cahoots with middle-men and exporters who make the profits even as the end user does not care about the source of this thing of beauty. Capitalism as we know.

This will go on of course because humans are vulnerable and tools in the hands of priests with their direct links to god so the devout will offer their hair for the very rich and the wannabes in the Western world to look and feel beautiful. Unless it becomes a fashionable and lucrative industry to protest against it. Like cruelty against animals.

That would make an interesting story. Can’t wait for some Western do-gooder-feminists to take on the Hindu priest brigade at Tirupati. 🙂


This is one of my favourite blogs. Always taking me into territories and discourses I sort of know but never really care to dissect. Just because…I’m lazy. And this film here seems to tell an interesting story of colonisation, neoliberalism and further exploitation within Africa by a country/power everyone is afraid of. I know from listening to stories told to me by a very bright young Ethiopian man who recently visited Ethiopia for the first time in his 23 years (his family came to New Zealand as ‘refugees’, a term I don’t like to use) of how the Indians and Chinese are appropriating land in and around Addis Ababa and exploiting the locals. A new kind of non-white racism and capitalism. Read on. Hopefully I shall get to watch the documentary too.

Africa is a Country (Old Site)


Bleeding, splintering, RGB pixels paint repeated images of handshakes and embraces — filmed off a television screen, or from existing filmed material — until they expand to a short panorama of the China-Africa Summit held in Beijing in 2006. Rapturously applauding, celebratory faces of powerful men, presidents and heads of state are seen, to a bellowing accompaniment: “…We, the leaders of China and Africa have gathered in Beijing to renew our friendship. Both China and Africa are cradles of human civilisation and lands of great promise. Common destiny and common goals have brought us together. China will remain a close friend, reliable partner and good brother to Africa.”

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Queering The Superficial Multiculturalism Of Aotearoa New Zealand.


Last week the New Zealand Parliament passed a landmark bill paving way for a law enabling marriage between homosexuals. Yay! For all the problematic issues within NZ society this bill is forward looking and seeking to create equality for all. Irrespective of colour, religion and ethnicity. The bill was passed 80-40. It could have been a larger majority if all the Asian MPs had voted for it. Yes, it was a conscience vote and without directive from the parties so ideally it should not matter how the Asia MPs voted. They did what they thought was right. Or was it?

The New Zealand Parliament has five Asian members. Raymond Huo and Rajen Prasad from Labour and Melissa Lee, Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi and Jian Yang from National. All list MPs that the Mixed Member Proportional system allows.

All list MPsWithout mandate from any constituency except as imagined by party bosses and projected by the above faithful.

And the imagined constituents are us ethnics.

Now I don’t know the exact process of how Asians get on that coveted list but anecdote is that they are thus placed depending upon their ability to bring together high numbers of ethnics to meet and greet with their party honchos. All very democratic.

So, how did they vote? Melissa, Kanwaljit and Jian all voted against the bill, Rajen Prasad voted for it and Raymond Huo abstained. I emailed all to ask why they did what they did. Melissa and Jian have not bothered to respond. Kanwaljit replied ” I made my position clear publically before the vote in Parliament through social media, noting that I did not support the bill and will be voting against it.” I asked him to share with me his supposedly very public views and whether they were on Twitter or his Facebook page, he did not respond. For all my own research I could not find any opinion by this honourable in the public domain. HEARSAY: Apparently this discussion was had on a private forum for the Sikh community where Kanwaljit insisted that the Guru Granth Sahib forbids same sex relations/marriage but could not produce the exact reference when asked by other members.   

Raymond emailed back “Both sides (those who are for or against) had lobbied me, with each presenting what appeared to be a convincing case. However, I was told that the majority of Kiwi Asians would have been opposed to the Bill. The vote on the Bill’s first reading took place before the consultation could be completed. So abstention (not to vote) was the most appropriate option.” So if there is going to be consultation process may I suggest a very publicly reported discourse that is conducted in English to let ‘all Asians’ participate and not just the Chinese who air their views on Skykiwi and Mandarin talkback radio? Otherwise that goes against the idea of multiculturalism right? To expect mainstream discourse to be translated into ethnic languages but not take ethnic issues into the mainstream domain? It is a two way street after all. Everyone has a right to know why Raymond’s constituents are for or against gay marriage. If there are death threats and violence then that is a problem in itself and we need to know why. This cannot be kept  only in the confines of the Chinese community.
Rajen Prasad replied ” (a). I see it as a question of human rights that, as a former Hunan Rights Commissioner for New Zealand, I am required to uphold. (b). This Bill takes no rights away from any individual and does not change the status of any marriage or relationship that already exists. (c). This Bill is not an opportunity to re-litigate the status of gay relationships. New Zealand made that law change in 1986,” Thanks for that.

I also asked them what they thought their role was in Parliament irrespective of ideology. Raymond said “Given the representative nature of MMP – although list MPs – I believe we are, to some extent, still held answerable to the constituency.” Kanwaljit’s reply, “… to ensure that the growing ethnic population in New Zealand enjoys the same rights and privileges offered to all New Zealanders. We support these communities to settle well, and we work with them to ensure that their best interests are represented in Parliament. I believe that as an elected Member of Parliament it is my duty to represent the view of my greater constituency in conscience votes.” COMMENT: First of all he is not an elected member of Parliament, secondly don’t gay Asians have the same right as all New Zealanders and thirdly how do you quantify the view of the greater constituency? Is this based on numbers or opinion? Rajen Prasad replied, “First, the role of an Asian MP is the same as any MP in Parliament, i.e. to make laws for all New Zealanders that are fair, just, and workable. Secondly, it is to advocate for individual citizens and groups of citizens on issues that they have not been able to resolve through the usual channels. You ask me to state my views on my role “irrespective of ideology”. I wonder if that is ever possible. We are members of our political Parties and have signed up to uphold the values and principles of our Parties. All the votes we cast in Parliament and the public positions we take are our Parties’ positions. We shape them off course but we do that over time and through the policy processes of the Party.”

Pretty blah eh? Is that why we haven’t seen a single Asian MP make any articulate, coherent statement in the house? The one time Melissa Lee spoke she made a complete boo-boo and I have mentioned Rajen Prasad’s wanna-be-Obama turn before the 2008 elections. Still waiting for that open dialogue about ‘Indian culture’ rather than celebrations or promoting Hindutva. Just voting for gay marriage is not enough.

I can give three reasons why there are Asian MPs. 1) Asian members add colour and exoticism to the New Zealand parliament. 2) Political parties use them to make ignorant ethnic masses feel good about representation. Asian migrants don’t actively engage with civil society or with the politics of the country but to see people like them in parliament makes them happy. 3) They showcase the successful diasporic peoples of India, China, South Korea and Fiji (?!), so the pathway to Free Trade Deals become smoother. Pardon the cynicism.

When there is a minority representative in the house, who does this person represent? The dominant, patriarchal elite within the minorities OR the ‘fringe dwellers’ as well? When you are a coloured migrant and you have to fight your way, every single day, then you know what discrimination is but you don’t try to wipe out that bigotry within your community because for the outside world (Pakeha and Maori) it does not matter. The Asian community by and large denies the existence of ‘queers’ (as one Indian-pillar-of-the-community called them) because they muddy the waters of our model minority. But they do exist. You don’t know them because they have have not told you, because they don’t trust you enough.

Do any of the Asian MPs think of this unfairness within? The religious, patriarchal Asian elements are happy to talk about the racism by mainstream New Zealand, they lobby the Asian MPs for the same and for individual issues yet will not acknowledge that they too have the fear and hatred of the ‘other’, those that are ‘different’.

Homosexuals within the Asian communities are the minority within the minorities. Have a conversation with any Asian gay man and he will tell you of the discrimination. By gay white men and by the Asian communities. Ask an Asian lesbian and she will repeat the stories of discrimination. By white lesbians and by the Asian communities; of agendas driven by white feminists that crush ideas of culture and religion and any ‘other’. Now the Asian gay and lesbian community can tell one more story. Of discrimination by their own representatives in Parliament. (This is their blog.)

How can the ‘mainstream’ in the Asian communities talk about injustice, intolerance and prejudice by Pakeha New Zealand on one hand, demand representation and visibility (for a certain kind of Asian) while at the same time deny legitimacy to the various strata within? Multiculturalism but of a homogeneous sort for the consumption of non-ethnic New Zealand. The zealots practice their hatred in safe spaces, in their language. Inside the communities, away from the eye of the world. So are any Asian MPs leading to explore and represent that complexity to mainstream New Zealand? Wouldn’t that be fair, equal and just? Human rights for all? How the Asian MPs voted for this bill speaks more about their ability to engage with the wider Asian community and their processes rather than just conscience voting. Why not bring the democratic process to the communities and encourage them to engage cross-culturally? Why hobnob only with community elite who lobby to maintain old hierarchies and power structures? Last year I interviewed Phil Goff and asked him whether he thought multiculturalism was ‘so twentieth century’ and his reply, where he says that ethnic people have a right to keep their language and their culture, shows to me, the archaic, superficial concept of multiculturalism that is practised in New Zealand today. There is a difference between cultural maintenance and multiculturalism. I have written about it here, continued here and also here.

Ethnic minorities are not about food, festivals and exotic dress to be showcased annually. Neither are they just about contributing to the economy. Legislation and laws affect them too. So does Te Tiriti O Waitangi, so do asset sales, mining, fracking, failed breast cancer screening programmes, subsidised medicines, university fees…gay marriage…they don’t live in silos and should not be encouraged to either. And practising their culture does not mean they can self-govern their communities without acknowledging, addressing and resolving conflicts within. Otherwise the Indian caste system could be perpetuated here couldn’t it? (BTW it is-because the current form of multiculturalism allows it to.)

So Asian MPs can no longer get away with talking to ethnic media or in the inner circles of their communities. It is time for an Asian MP Watch. It is time for intelligent, articulate leaders who care about the whole community and can make coherent discourse to the entire country. Not just look pretty or be arrogant.

*I have copy-pasted the replies without changing any typos or other spelling/grammatical errors.