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Naked in Nuhaka: The Interactive Immigrant

Leo Koziol: Naked in Nuhaka



AUCKLAND TAMAKI MAKAURAU, AOTEAROA NZ, NOVEMBER 5, 2006: The Alternative Aotearoa Coalition announced today the formation of a new national immigration policy -- targeting of the "Interactive Immigrant."

The Coalition policy will: * Achieve the goals of the Aotearoa Immigration Strategy 2020
* Make Aotearoa NZ a more relevant and satisfying immigration proposition
* Make better use of Immigration Aotearoa's limited marketing budget
* Reflect a move in the world away from broadcasting to a narrowcast approach

Primary motivations of the Interactive Immigrant are:
* Interaction with the landscape and local culture, Maori culture and kiwi communities
* Global trends are for authenticity, connectedness, and engagement

Marketing Imperatives:
* Word of Mouth will be an important marketing tool to draw Interactive Immigrants to Aotearoa
* The marketing imperative is to move a 'preference' for Aotearoa to an 'intention to immigrate'

* More likely to be in the 25 – 35 and 50 – 64 age groups
* In AB quintile with high discretionary income
* Typically represent 5 – 9% of a country's population

Attitudes and Lifestyles:
* Global mindset
* Use technology to enhance their lives
* Meet potential immigration partners online
* Leaders not followers
* Drink wine and enjoy life's indulgences
* Have liberal attitudes
* Read business sections of newspapers
* Are politically and socially aware

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Interactive Immigrants are not geographically district - they tend to have the same immigration motivations regardless of where they live. They are seeking somewhere "special" and "unique" and read and consume similar products the world over e.g. Discovery, Cinema.

Interactive Immigrants are environmentally aware, seek to live authentic lives, and tell others about what a great experience NZ offers. In particular, Interactive Immigrants are:
* Seeking a remote, 'get away from it all' lifestyle and location
* Are attracted by our country's liberal, progressive nuclear-free and GE-free policies
* Are attracted to the bustling low-crime streets of our main centres
* Appreciate our extensive public recreational estate, included open access to coastlands and bushlands

Targeting of Interactive Immigrants will be a core element of the achievement of a successful national immigration policy for Aotearoa NZ, that integrates new immigrants to our nation whilst minimising the negative effects of the cultural shifts that will likely eventuate.

* * * *

What attracts an international migrant to move to Aotearoa New Zealand? Beyond the more obvious factors such as familial ties and marriage to a kiwi, what is the "X" factor that draws someone to such a remote, wild and "on the edge" location? Why might someone choose to live here as opposed to, say, Australia? And how, perhaps, does the combination of this multiplicity of personal decisions contribute to the character of our nation, of our people?

I was up in Auckland a couple of months ago, and I was fretting with a friend over my decision to live in the "remote" district of Wairoa, here in Nuhaka. He commented to me, "Well, everyone in New Zealand has opted to make that decision, we're all far away from it all and rather than fret on it we need to turn this back on itself and make it something that defines us."

I've since stopped fretting. Because I couldn't agree more.

* * * *

One of the more interesting local characters here in Wairoa (and trust me, there's quite a few!) is one Shyloh. Shyloh (his full name) is a local greenie organic farmer down the coast at Waihua. I've met him a number of times on the street, where he campaigned with great success on an anti-GE petition, and he's also come in to chat with me in the office on more than one occasion. Shyloh's an affable chap, a salt of the earth organic farmer usually dressed in simple attire with a beard and pig-tail. A good dude.

Shyloh wanted to look into reactivating an old urupa (graveyard) on his land, but unfortunately I wasn't able to help him. We had a nice chat instead. He gave me the scoop on the breakaway formation of the Green Party in the 1990s, when his crowd (he has shares in the Hemp Store) brought a substantial new voting block to the party. Another week he came in with the City of San Francisco resolution on the "precautionary principle" which he wanted me to forward to Councillors (I'd already seen it all over the net (1)).

One time, before saying goodbye, he did a little rant to me: "You know Man, we've really gotta stop letting all these American immigrants in. They're buying up all the land, bringing their consumerist anti-GE attitudes, and will get rid of our anti-nuclear stance." His comment intrigued me. Not least of all, because Shyloh had also informed me that he grew up in the American Midwest.

I got a laugh out of Shyloh's comment, because being anti-American immigrant is like being anti-Australian immigrant. They fit in pretty well here, tending mostly to be white and middle-class. Like most migrants, Yanks tend to be hard working types who make a positive contribution to our society.

My own Dad, Leo Koziol Sr., is an immigrant from America. Dad still has his Yankee accent, likes to watch Baseball and Superbowl on Sky Sports, watches Letterman when he can get a chance, and has been a resident of Nuhaka for now close to 35 years. Dad worked hard most of his adult life on the Railways until Richard Prebble shut down the entire East Coast line. He's now retired with my Mum (who's still working) here in Nuhaka, Aotearoa, New Zealand, which he unapologetically calls Paradise.

So I didn't really agree much with Shyloh, but he did get me thinking. Thinking about the future, and what it might hold.

* * * *

At the last Census in 2001, there were only 13,344 resident of NZ who were originally born in the US. This compares with the 56,259 born in near-neighbour Australia, the 178,203 born in Britain, and the 165,777 born in the rather more extensive area of "Asia." There are only slightly more people in NZ originally born in the USA than NZers that were born in North Africa and the Middle East (12,175 in 2001). The increase in American-born NZ residents was 15% from 1996 to 2001, but this compares with an increase for the same time period of 81% for Iraq-born kiwis, a 100% increase for China-born NZers, and a 130% increase in South Africa-born residents of our isles. So there is hardly an influx of Americans to our shores.

But apparently this looks set to change. An article in last week's Los Angeles Times (2) presented the trend of the new American immigrant:

"[These new migrants] are on the vanguard of an American migration to New Zealand that's dominated by Californians, a wave being heralded as a godsend by the tiny country's government and business leaders. In fact, they are actively recruiting Californians, appealing to the sentiment that if your West Coast paradise is lost, here it can be regained."

Migrants to "Sanctuary Aotearoa" (3) are flocking here to escape from the post-911 paranoia and ever present fear so prevalent in American urbania (from "Orange Alert" to "Cops"). This description of Wellington, the civilised and serene new arcadian "San Francisco of the South Pacific":

"At night, the downtown streets are alive with people strolling among the dozens of cafes, restaurants, theaters and clubs. The absence of a street-wise hustle or a sense of urban danger is as remarkable as the variety of cuisines."

We've got universal health care, artistic expression beyond our numbers, cheap housing with ocean views, a growing multi-culti feel, and even (at last!) a decent Mexican food outlet (4). Given the broadening attraction of our whenua, it seems we're only on the tip of a very big wave:

"For the first time in New Zealand history, Yankees are snapping up not just vineyard land but all manner of real estate, from modest beach houses to Auckland office towers. Hotels, forests and dairy farms are giving way to American-style vacation resorts, housing developments and palatial estates."

True blue kiwis are starting to get a little hot-under-the-collar about this new wave of investment migrants. A movement of NIMBY-ism ("Not in my blue yonder") is coalescing that includes a rather disparate grouping of conservative NZ First-ers, leftist Greenies, and "radical" Maori. Young Nick's Head (Te Kuri) – which the LA Times describes as "New Zealand's Plymouth Rock" – is presented as the nexus of the growing tensions. Rod Donald of the Green Party:

"There is a sense of loss. This is particularly true of coastal and high-country land where [foreign owners] are imposing access restrictions not compatible with our culture," he says. "We have a tradition where people walk up any river bank to fish, go tramping across the high country. We regard beaches as open to all."

The article continues:

"Not surprisingly, some American investors are balking at such an open-door policy. "Unless you are a guest, or get permission, you can't hunt or fish on our property," says Mark Blake, a 36-year-old San Franciscan who five years ago bought Poronui Station, a 16,260-acre North Island wilderness crisscrossed with fly-fishing streams near Lake Taupo. Blake charges guests, who have included Vice President Dick Cheney, $600 a night to angle in solitude." It's not a free-for-all on our property. It's not cool to go around the corner and find a six-pack of used Tuis," he says, claiming unauthorized trampers have littered his property with discarded beer cans. "The Maoris have had unfettered access. And that's changing," he says."

Te Kuri and Poronui Station serve as flashpoints for the future definition of the nature of our nation, including its underlying operational principles under founding documents such as the Treaty of Waitangi. If Mr. Blake thinks its okay to bar entry on to his station – unless you want to pony up with the $600 fee – then why shouldn't Maori be denied the same right of charging for access? Why shouldn't they be charging Mr. Blake $1,000 a portage onto Lake Taupo, which the Tuwharetoa tribe holds customary lake-bed title to? Such is the "external environment" that is apparent as our current government attempts to stumble through the vexed (hexed?) foreshore and seabed issue. I don't like either side of this story.

There has to be a better way.

Most of the purchasers of large land estates here are Americans who have sought NZ citizenship and intend to live here either permanently or for a good proportion of the year. They are keen to fit in with the local culture: one migrant, a Mr. Chiuminatta, changed his name to Alan Trent because "He wanted his name to sound more English, so that his family would more easily fit in their new country."

Why not encourage people to add a Maori middle or last name? Robbie Williams etal happily adorn themselves with Maori moko tattoos—why not an extra Maori name after your visit, or decision to permanently stay?

Why not have classes in Maori cultural sensitivity? Why not give all new migrants a powhiri on to a marae as part of their citizenship process? (indeed, many local Councils do this already). Why not have classes for Americans to learn proper kiwi diction? Fast track classes in kiwi slang and Pakeha philosophy? Video libraries of Fred Dagg and Billy T.?

My feeling is that US immigrants like Mr. Blake are the exception rather than the rule. The great unwashed of "mainstream" New Zealanders may balk at "Treaty of Waitangi sensitivity education" but new migrants from America and elsewhere – the "Interactive Immigrants" – are likely to be keen and open to learning about our nation's rich history.

They'll want to move to a range of different locations across our two large islands (5), learn about the rich histories of the tangata whenua and their intertwined relationships with the Pakeha kiwi communities, perhaps pick up a little of the "Te Reo," and maybe start a boutique cottage business or two (marketed both to fellow interactive immigrants as well as the growing tourist trade, with a mandatory website, of course).

The Interactive Immigrant would likely not balk at a small requirement to learn Te Reo Maori as part of an immigration requirement – if, say, you need 3.5 points on the English language scale, perhaps it could be 0.5 for the Maori language? Anyone from the European mainland would see it as no more than adding to their already substantial portfolio of linguistic talents.

Why not encourage Interactive Immigrants to purchase leases on land rather than outright ownership? Why not encourage them to convert their general title land into Maori land (Ngati Pakeha?) and commence a tradition of passing their whenua (land) on down through further generations? How about whole coastal communities on Maori leasehold land where title returns back to tangata whenua after 250 years?

I appreciate Shyloh's fears and see it apparent in the concerns of groups up and down the country protesting against foreign ownership. But it seems to me that the progressive left is not presenting positive alternatives to a simple "clamp-down" of entry into NZ and purchase by foreign residents (as well as recent immigrants). Such positive alternatives - such as the ones I've listed above - need to be researched for their feasibility, and hopefully implemented so that we do not lose the unique elements of Aotearoa that make us "us." Simple things like free and open access to our beaches. Simple things like a sense that we're all in this together.

* * * *

NUHAKA, AOTEAROA NZ, NOVEMBER 7, 2003: The article at the commencement of this week's Naked in Nuhaka is a reality slip. The "Aotearoa Alternative" party does not exist, nor is it entering into coalition with anyone anytime soon.

The notion of the "Interactive Immigrant" came from a series of brochures on the "Interactive Traveller" released by the NZ Ministry of Tourism. I was bemused that the Ministry was targeting "politically and socially aware" people with "liberal attitudes" to come and visit here as tourists. I thought: why doesn't the Labour coalition encourage them to stay, perhaps marry a kiwi, and add to their voter base? (!)

Well, my suspicions were confirmed in this week's LA Times article. Check the article out for yourself, and you'll find our Immigration Minister Lianne Dalziel and Prime Minister Helen Clark cheery-eyed and open-armed to our new ex-California immigrants.

Its now close to two years since I moved back home to Nuhaka after half a decade in San Francisco. In that time, I've watched these two places draw closer and closer together. Like the new U.S. immigrants to Aotearoa, I like that it "reminds me of California" (6). Mediterranean days with cooler Northern California evenings blowing off the sea (here, a cold southerly blast; there, the cooling Pacific fogs).

One hour's flight south of San Fran is Hollywood; one hour's flight south of Nuhaka is Wellywood. There, one person – one rebel – chose not to move to glittertown to be engulfed, but instead chose to bring a fair chunk of it here. He has made a Middle Earthian epic that soars greater for being borne almost completely in whole on this promordial land, a landscape so alive that if Middle Earth did exist here 5,000 years ago undoubtedly all traces of it would now all be gone.

Thanks to Peter Jackson, the trails of taniwha now slide across a global celluloid screen as a dopamine-deprived public enthralls in the ecstacy of Aotearoan phantasmagoric mind visions realised. And thanks to Lord Jackson, a creative web of Interactive Immigrants now call Wellington home. And they like it, because it "reminds them of San Francisco."

Like San Francisco, I can imagine Aotearoa New Zealand becoming a "spiritual portal" for political progressives of many stripes, a place for a certain global sentience to reside and connect with. We have the potential to lead by example, to make this place a point of importance and relevance and sanity in an age of clear global disreality.

In the depths of pre-Iraq war Blair-driven political divisiveness, a writer in the UK Independent (7) pointed to nations such New Zealand becoming "civilised havens" for "scholars, scientists, philosophers, engineers, writers, artists [and] philanthropists." The opportunity is there for the taking (8).

Perhaps we could start with an Interactive Immigration Policy?

* * * *


The Interactive Traveller http://www.tourisminfo.govt.nz/cir_pub/index.cfm?fuseaction=253

Outrage as LA Times slams Napier (oh, dear) http://www.mytown.co.nz/story/mytstorydisplay.cfm?storyID=3531935&thecity=hawkesbay&thepage=news&type=nzh

* * * *


(1) http://www.mindfully.org/Precaution/San-Francisco-Precaution-Draft-Ordinan ce 12aug02.htm

(2) http://www.latimes.com/features/printedition/magazine/la-tm-newzealand43oct26,1,2801115.story (requires registration [which is free])

(3) http://www.nzedge.com/hot/global-newzmakers.html#AOTEAROA

(4) Flying Burrito Brothers, in Welly.

(5) Not just Auckland, which most likely reminds them a little too much of the sprawling megalopoli they are trying to escape. Indeed, ex-Californians like the drier east (see (6)).

(6) I forwarded the link to the LA Times article to friends this week, with the following intro: "Readers of Naked in Nuhaka will be familiar with my description of the sprawling Auckland centered Whangarei-Hamilton-Tauranga triangle as "Moo Loo La La Land." Tellingly, the LA Times article does not refer to Californians moving to the wetter subtropical north -- instead, they are migrating to the drier east coast (Gissie, Hawke's Bay, Wairarapa) and top of the south (Marlborough, Nelson) where they are buying up all the coastal land. Why? "It reminds them of California."... These sub-portions of Aotearoa shall hereafter be known as "Neo Cal del Norte" and "Neo Cal del Sur." At the heart of "California II: The Sequel" is Wellywood, the fault-fractured "San Francisco of the South Pacific." I agree at many levels, though the burg *is* definitely lacking in leather bars... (anyone eaten at Flying Burrito Bros yet?)."

(7) http://argument.independent.co.uk/commentators/story.jsp?story=382663 Quote: "If, in a khaki election, Bush finally wins a term as President, decent Americans, intellectual Americans, American scholars, scientists, philosophers, engineers, writers, artists and, not least, American philanthropists, Americans with a great deal to contribute, are going to be looking for a civilised haven... English-speaking countries such as... New Zealand will be well placed to welcome them and benefit from their talented presence."

(8) I plan to take a first step by writing an article on "Sanctuary Aotearoa" for San Francisco progressive newsweekly "SF Bay Guardian" ( http://www.sfbg.com/) to attract progressive migrants and philanthropic investors here to NZ. A goal should be 100 think-tanks and 7 significant spiritual centres (building on those already existing).

****** ENDS ******

ABOUT NAKED IN NUHAKA Leo Koziol ( oshie@xtra.co.nz) writes somewhat intermittently on identity, culture, and politics in Aotearoa NZ in the 21st Century. Nuhaka is located on the East Coast of the North Island of NZ. Mr. Koziol is glad that he finally worked out how to write about immigration.


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