Irish getting a bit of stick over stereotype

GEORGINA STYLIANOU
Last updated 05:00 01/09/2012
skry adamson
FED UP: Skry Adamson has noticed a negative change in attitude towards Irish people.

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Irish workers in Christchurch feel they have been unfairly labelled as drunks, and some are asked to say things like "fiddle-dee-dee potatoes" and "to be sure, to be sure" to amuse locals.

Hundreds of Irish have poured into the region since the earthquakes, and immigration lawyer Mark Williams expects "hundreds more to come" over the next two to five years.

Skry Adamson, 33, has been in Christchurch for five years and said there had "always been a bit of a stereotype".

"Since the quakes, with a lot more Irish people coming here, I've definitely noticed things changing for the worse, and it's gone from being friendly banter to a bit more negative."

Adamson said he was "always asked" to recite Irish catchphrases.

"It's a laugh at first, but it gets pretty tiring when it's all the time," he said.

"You do get labelled as a drinker, too, I've certainly noticed that. Maybe Kiwis go home after work and sit on the couch and we go to the pub for a beer, but that doesn't mean we're all drunks."

Adamson said young Irish people coming to Christchurch were "up against it".

"We're a hard-working nation and I think they have it pretty tough constantly being stereotyped," he said.

Co-owner of the Irishman pub Nik Dodge said she was "very aware of the stereotype".

"They do have to put up with a lot of 'oh, the Irish are always drunk' kind of stuff, but it's not true," she said. Structural engineer Rita Cahill said she had come up against stereotypes all her life because she was Irish and did not drink.

"It's always been something that people can't get their heads around," she said.

"It was like that at home, but it's been a bit worse explaining it to Kiwis because it's not what they expect."

Williams, of Christchurch law firm Lane Neave, said people needed to be "a bit more careful" about stereotyping nationalities coming to Christchurch for the rebuild.

"It's jobs for Cantabrians first, then jobs for Kiwis, but we're still going to need a lot of workers from overseas, and in terms of construction, engineering and those types of things, there's no better match for Christchurch than Ireland," he said.

In June, Christchurch's Irish community hit back at claims by police that Irish fans at a rugby game were more intoxicated and disorderly than New Zealand fans.

This month, the Employment Relations Authority found Christchurch-based carpenter Michael Corbett was abused at work for being Irish. He was awarded more than $13,000.

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Plasterer Colin Neeson has been in Christchurch for nine months and said if someone "went a bit too far with banter" he would give as good as he got.

"I'll just name-call them back," he said.

- The Press

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