New Zealanders of future will have multiple cultural identities and values, says report.
Singapore-born Chloe Kannangara is of Irish-Dutch and Singaporean-Sinhalese descent – but considers herself to be “half Asian, half Kiwi”.
The 18-year-old, a first-year student at the University of Auckland, said she doesn’t consider herself to be different because she has “lots of friends” who are of mixed ethnicities.
“I know Russian-Jews, Malay-Japanese, Chinese-Europeans … I don’t think being of mixed heritage makes me different, just unique,” said Miss Kannangara.
“Some people look at me and think I’m South American or Polynesian, but just because I’m born in Singapore, I consider myself to be half Asian, half Kiwi.”
Miss Kannangara moved to New Zealand with her father, Stephen, a Singaporean-Sinhalese, and mother, Anna, who is Irish-Dutch, when she was 1.
According to a new report that reviewed the latest Census figures, Miss Kannangara could be the face of New Zealand future.
Our Futures: Te Pae Tawhiti, released yesterday afternoon, said the country’s future would be one where many living here will have multiple “national” identities.
Seven key themes were identified for the report – diversity, population, growth, tangata whenua, migration, households and families, regional variation and work.
Professor Paul Spoonley, a member of the review panel, said New Zealand would become a country with multiple cultural identities and values. “We have many more people who come from different parts of the world and who therefore retain their own national identities as well as being New Zealanders.”
“We are also seeing more people who have mixed parentage and who can claim multiple identities, and of course New Zealand Census allows for multiple identities, which again is unusual.”
Professor Spoonley said this was partly because New Zealand had one of the most relaxed attitudes to dual citizenship and visa waiver arrangements of any country.
Authors of the review said New Zealand’s population growth was also likely to be entirely dependent on immigration.
In the last 20 years the country had become diverse in new ways, with increasing migration from Asia and an increasing population of overseas-born people.
The study found Maori culture and institutions continued to endure and evolve, but the maintenance of Te Reo Maori would face challenges.
Between 2006 and 2013, Auckland accounted for over half the population growth, while internal migration between regions decelerated.
Employment was also changing in terms of location, occupation and industries, accompanied by changes in labour supply, in part because of the ageing of the population and reliance on immigrant labour.
Panel chairman Professor Gary Hawke said the multi-disciplinary review focused on the big picture.
Our Futures: Te Pae Tawhiti
• NZ will become a country with multiple cultural identities and values.
• People are living and staying active longer, needing income for longer.
• Maintenance of te reo Maori will be a challenge.
• More will be coming from Asia.
• Rise in two-family households.
• Auckland accounted for over half of population growth.
• Work will change because of ageing population and reliance on migrant labour.
Source: the Royal Society of New Zealand).
One nation with many faces