Duncan Garner: Dear NZ, how do we want to look in 20 years?
OPINION: I went to Kmart on Wednesday to buy some new underpants and socks.
Routine stuff. Job done for another year. That was my aim.
And besides, the new purchases were absolutely critical. I had held on to the old undies and socks for too long. Enough said.
I do, however, want to fly a flag before I continue.
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None of what I say here in this column is intended to be racist or anti-foreigner.
But it most definitely should come across as being outwardly pro-NZ.
Now, normally this outing to the mall wouldn't be a big deal but this one fast became a nightmarish glimpse into our future if we stuff it up.
As I started walking towards the self-pay counter I saw a massive human snake crawling its way around the self-service island near the middle of the store. And it snaked and snaked and snaked. The snake was massive.
I wondered what the attraction was? It wasn't immediately obvious. Then it was. The self-service counter couldn't cope.
It couldn't cope with the pressures of the people. The dozens of stressed faces making up the human snake were frustrated too.
I looked around, it could have been anywhere in South East Asia.
I wasn't shocked – we have reported this for three years – we have targeted immigrants, opened the gates and let in record numbers. This year's net gain of migrants was 72,000.
Indians, Pakistanis, Sri Lankans, Syrians, and many others. I saw the changing face of New Zealand at the crossroads, otherwise known as Kmart's self-service counter. Every four minutes and 51 seconds New Zealand's population grows by another person. We are growing faster now than compared to any other time in our history. And faster than most countries in the world.
New Zealand's population grew by 100,400 to the June 2017 year.
This is not an opinion column designed to be deliberately inflammatory on race grounds, flimsy grounds or any other grounds.
But do we have any idea what we're doing here? No.
Predictions show we will have 6.3 million people by 2038. There'll be more Asians than Maori. Is anyone leading this debate on how big we should be? No.
Does it matter? You bet it does.
Get this wrong and New Zealand could be an international cot case of broken cities, poor planning, congested highways and stolen dreams.
And we will have no one to blame but ourselves.
Immigration is great, but I'm not sure our traditional standard of living is enhanced by it.
Wages have been flat, that helps no one but business owners.
House prices meanwhile have rocketed and the home ownership dream is dead for many. And buried. Forever.
When the average price of a home in the biggest city is $1.04m what's the question?
The question is, where's the affordable homes? Answer, um we forgot to plan and build them. Sorry. Next time maybe.
Do we have a Minister of Population and Planning? Of course not. The incoming prime minister should make this a priority. It should be a senior job.
It would signal a new Government is serious about securing our future in a rapidly changing world.
Labour is planning a new Minister for Pike River. Populist and smart, sure, but hardly a game-changer. Who has our collective backs in the battle for the best quality of life in the future? I'm not sure yet.
We should be able to build crucial big projects faster if we're growing at a rate of knots.
We are falling head-first into the future and we need to stop and think. We need to pause, plan and design our country and how we go about life, work and pleasure in 2038.
Until now we've had the world gate-crash our party. But now it is time to make it work for us.
Let's design our country to make it better for us. Bring in the people by all means but send them to where we need them. Let's not give them what they need from us so easily.
People are lining up to come here because we are the last paradise on Earth.
Our small population is our winning card. Let's not lose that.
Everything we do we must ask ourselves this question: Will this make our country better for those living in it now?
If the answer is no then we must pause, stop and think again. Your great-grandchildren will be so grateful. And it's our legacy.
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