The Eye of the Fish

September 5, 2015

Housing refugees

Leaving the smokescreen that is the Flag debate behind, to concentrate on more important things: how would we house refugees? Yes, I think everyone except for John Key gets it that there is a massive problem with floods of people moving countries, and that New Zealand needs to play its part. 750 people per year is pathetic. Even Labour and the Greens proposals for 1000, or 1500 people, are pathetic. We have the space to take more, and so we should, too. What if we were to take… 50,000? Even that would be a drop in the bucket – but it would make a difference, and show that we were serious about helping. But how?

We have two options: brownfield or greenfield. Either are possible. One thing is for certain: not Auckland.

With brownfield, NZ should look to all the small towns around New Zealand, slowly dying from lack of people. Towns like Shannon, Waipukerau, Tokeroa, Gisborne etc. Think what a boon it would be for each town if they suddenly had a boom in population, 500 or 1000 new residents each. Existing houses to be used, at last. New houses to be built, at last. Shops would be needed. Restaurants would arise. Cafes would grow out of nothing. Takeaway hummus sales would soar. Kebab shops would blossom.

Greenfield, on the other hand, could be even more exciting. Rather than spread a thin layer of Syrians and Libyans all over the country, how about we just say: you know, there is this rather large block of nothingness between Eketahuna and Taihape (say). It’s yours. Go crazy. Build! and see what happens. Why do all NZ towns have to be the same? Why not one whole town that is a little Syria in exile, for the next few years or few decades?

The one thing I would say however, is they must leave religious battles behind. There is no point in putting Sunni and Shia and Christians together. They must leave that way of thinking behind, the way they are leaving much of their history behind. New Zealand is the most secular nation on earth – something that we should be proud of. Not believing in a magic man in the sky. Just: be yourself.

Or is that just all too John Lennon?

Post-script: an upwardly mobile burger…

Hardly the time or the place, I know – but then again: when IS the time or the place?

7 - 09 - 15

a stony silence…

7 - 09 - 15

Should have included something about bicycles…

On a slightly tangential note, I recall debates with the upwardly-mobile burghers of the Aro Valley last decade about their desire to preserve “heritage” in the area – which after considerable argument came out sounding largely like Thorndon Envy. My view was and still is that the real heritage of the Valley is in the honourable history of refugees, immigrants, anarchists, students and other glorious ratbags who have passed through it over the generations.By that reckoning, rather than deploring big social housing projects like Pukehinau as wiping out history, we should celebrate them and build more for all the newcomers still to come.

It might be nice for Shannon to get more halal, but why should we share? Bring them to inner city Wellington where they might even have a good time.

7 - 09 - 15

my friend just got her bike stolen….

(there – is that better?)

Great argument for Aro Valley. A fine history of “glorious ratbags” as you say. Better yet: we could house 600 Syrians up the road in Mitchelltown, and no one would ever know.

7 - 09 - 15

Some interesting ratbag comments coming off Stuff right now, in reaction to the news that NZ has said it will take an extra 600 refugees:

Annon1 – Why aren’t these young fighting fit looking men given guns and told to fight for their country? Surely refugees should only consist of the old, women and children? What’s going on here?

smee – what twit voted for us being underpopulated. do you really want to be neck-deep in people looking for jobs, high levels of homelessness, increased crime and civil conflicts (exactly the same as the ones the migrants caused before fleeing?!)

Ruz – I think we are asking for trouble down the track if we let migrants from Syria into NZ. We don’t know if there are members of ISIL embedded into the Syrian migration into Europe. It will be a ticking time bomb if they find their way here so why take the risk.

60 MPa
7 - 09 - 15

Do not read the comments on Stuff, they will rot your brain

Or, more likely, they will bring on a chronic depression when one realises that this planet is possibly another planet’s hell

9 - 09 - 15

Mr 60 – “Do not read the comments on Stuff, they will rot your brain”
Too late for that I am afraid…
But point well taken.

11 - 09 - 15

Personally Id welcome an influx of refugees to areas struggling with population loss.

The only caveats I have are that they stay away from Auckland due to housing issues and leaving their religion at the border. It has no place in a modern society

19 - 09 - 15

There’s an excellent article on the origins of the stateless refugees we are seeing – on the Guardian website, very long, but very well written, of which this is a little taster:

“A misunderstanding about the relationship between state authority and mass killing underlay an American myth of the Holocaust that prevailed in the early 21st century: that the US was a country that intentionally rescued people from the genocides caused by overweening states. Following this reasoning, the destruction of a state could be associated with rescue rather than risk. One of the errors of the 2003 invasion of Iraq was the belief that regime change must be creative. The theory was that the destruction of a state and its ruling elite would bring freedom and justice. In fact, the succession of events precipitated by the illegal invasion of a sovereign state confirmed one of the unlearned lessons of the history of the second world war.

Mass killings generally take place during civil wars or regime changes. It was the deliberate policy of Nazi Germany to artificially create conditions of state destruction and then steer the consequences towards Jews. Destroying states without such malign intentions produces more conventional disasters.

The invasion of Iraq killed at least as many people as did the prior Iraqi regime. It exposed the members of the Iraqi ruling party to religious cleansing and prepared the way for chaos throughout the country. The American invaders eventually sided with the political clan they had initially defeated, so desperate were they to restore order. This permitted a troop withdrawal, which was then followed by Islamist uprisings. The destruction of the Iraqi state in 2003 and the political disturbances brought by the hot summer of 2010 created the space for the terrorists of Islamic State in 2014. A common American error is to believe that freedom is the absence of state authority.”

20 - 09 - 15

Thanks Arthur. There’s a much smaller article on the NZHerald website which is not quite so gloomy, talking about the ongoing history of refugee people movements: