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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

[General] New New Zealander

(Nope not a typo.)

Tonight’s the census! I love censuses! No, really. I just love filling out forms. At the last one I made it sure it was me that filled out the household form for my flat.

Ahhhh, tick-box bliss.

But this year there has been a strong debate around the ethnicity question. Here is a quick blog run down:

And that’s about as far as I bothered looking this morning.

I looked at the partial form image that Tom had up and thought to myself, “What would I pick?” My milky-white skin and red hair pretty much gives me away as not being any of the options from Mäori to Indian.

My mother was adopted and I have no information about my (genetic) maternal grandfather. On my father’s side I am a pure WASP (which is not on the census form I might add).

HOWEVER (and this really does need to be capatalised) my father’s family came to New Zealand aboard the Monarch. The Monarch arrived before “the first four ships” (but after the first seven canoes as my girlfriend constantly reminds me; she has been here longer) and berthed in the Akaroa harbour and thus the Greens came to Aotearoa.

This does seem a bit long winded but my point is that my family is possibly one of the oldest non-Mäori families in New Zealand and I have never been to England (though I did get to Portugal and France). This means that I feel loathe to tick the “New Zealand European” box.

I work with census data a lot in my work and I understand what StatsNZ is hoping to get from the population so I’m not getting riled up. Like some people. What StatsNZ want, and what this question is usually used for later on, is only just a little bit deeper than “Where did you (or your ancestors) come from?”

To get around this I propose that Ethnicity should no longer be one question but a series of question devoted to the understanding of where you fit conceptually in society (a census of bees or ants would be so much easier). Of course the census cannot be changed due to reactions. StatsNZ were asking for submissions in late 2004! Gerry Brownlee getting angry now is no good.

That’ll do for my thoughts this morning. While I think that most of the angry people (including whoever sent out “that email”) are idiots, it does feel nice to have the debate. Don’t ya think?

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