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