By: Mike Hosking | Wednesday, October 31, 2012
This report on Maori crossing the ditch for a new life in Australia – I briefly mentioned it yesterday but didn't have time to expand on it. The headline was there are more Maori in Brisbane than there are in Hamilton and that Brisbane might be the fourth most populated area of Maori in the world now.
Behind that was the salutary reminder that life just because it’s sunny isn’t the be all and end all and just because you can head off to the so called dream three hours away doesn't mean you’ll find it. The report points out that many, in this case Maori but it doesn't have to be, are disenfranchised and haven’t attained what they thought they might.
This is the part of the story that wasn't thought about a lot when we started fretting about the numbers of people crossing the Tasman to live. How many stories have we read? Record numbers leave the country, the mass exodus from Christchurch, and each time with the under tone that the only reason they’re doing it is because this place doesn't offer what they want and a plane ride away is nirvana.
Now this isn’t to rub it in or point the finger or go ‘look, I told you so’, but it’s a good reminder that behind any story or any set of numbers or any so called trend there will be something deeper and more complex to it. That bit is important because we’ve spent too much time worrying about what we lack as a country, that large numbers leaving must mean we’re not as good - it was never the case.
Certainly lots of people have gone to Australia but, as this report shows us, not because they had a better find or better offer. It’s just some people are transitory and go where the perceived action is. It doesn’t make it a home or a life – it just makes it a staging post and if it doesn't work out in Brisbane, they'll go elsewhere.
In fact that's how immigration works. There is no shortage of new arrivals in this country from South Africa, Asia, America, Britain, pick a country, that have come here - not because they’ve got nothing to do but because they've sought a better life and by and large we offer it. But those aren’t the stories that make the headlines. Those in the exit queue are the fodder for the story writers.
Further, without bagging Australia, they’ve got more than their fair share of worries. For the grandiose claims laid out about the big red land being the ultimate lifestyle magnet, there are many things from jobs to the cost of living to the health of retail to the cost of housing that many a potential new life may find harder than the brochure might suggest. Globally speaking they’re one of the better options. In fact we both are. Globally we are at the top of the pile in so many of the categories people tick as important. Major chunks of the globe are wallowing and comparatively we’re quids in.
The plane load bound for Australia will always get attention but it’s only when you read reports like this that you get some real context.
Photo: Getty Images
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