Editorial: New citizens in need of friends

WARWICK RASMUSSEN
Last updated 12:00 13/08/2012

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OPINION: New Zealanders are very good at welcoming people from all over the world.

In fact, if not for immigration our population would battle to stay stable, let alone increase.

Of course, the reasons that people come to call New Zealand home are as varied as the countries they come from.

Many simply want a change, some for work or other opportunities, some have a family link, while others are escaping an otherwise terrifying fate in their homeland.

There is always contention over where our immigrants come from, how many come in each year and what they offer us.

That aside, the New Zealanders that are already here need to look beyond making it an attractive proposition to move here for our soon-to-be citizens.

A survey by the new super ministry, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (Mobie), showed that most migrants enjoyed living in New Zealand, but more than half had none or one Kiwi that they called a friend.

A bit sad really, isn't it?

When you think about it, it's a bit strange that all the effort is made for people to come here, but that next step isn't made.

It is obviously a two-way street and it makes sense for people from similar cultures to stick together. The sense of familiarity, language and customs make that transition to another place that much easier.

New Zealanders and the new New Zealanders need to work harder to get to know one another. It does require some effort and the easy way out is to stick within that comfort zone.

If you were born and raised in New Zealand, consider the notion of having to move to another country, one where English was not spoken and you were the one who looked and sounded different.

Then ask yourself these questions: what would make your integration in that society easier or better? And, what could you do to make yourself part of your new society?

It's probably easier said than done, but if the survey results are accurate we have a long way to go until we break down any "us" and "them" barriers.

The Olympics are over for another four years, with the closing ceremony winding things up this morning (NZ time), and we were truly blessed to see some amazing exploits, not only from our New Zealand athletes, but from those around the world. Usain Bolt's double-double win in the 100 and 200 metre final, was history in the making. Simply breath-taking. The question is, will he return for more in Rio de Janeiro in four years' time?

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- Manawatu Standard

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