What the US Embassy was interested in

December 28th, 2010 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

I’ve found the cables fascinating, as it shows us what the US Embassy was interested in, and reporting on.

In some areas, they have done an analysis which is superior to anything I have read in the local media.

This cable analyses the Kiwi Muslim community, and looks at whether they are heading for integration or insulation.

New Zealand’s small but active Muslim community points to a member of parliament, regular appearances on national television by community leaders, ready access to the Prime Minister and her cabinet, and joint statements with Jewish organizations as hallmarks of movement into the political mainstream. But a recent influx of Arab and African immigrants is creating tensions within New Zealand’s traditionally South Asian Muslim population. This changing ethnic makeup is causing some disagreement over members’ identity and assimilation, as well as concerns about preventing terrorist groups and Wahhabi ideology from gaining a toehold here. The community also faces other challenges )from hate crimes to job discrimination ) as it deals with its continued growth.

They correctly highlight the tensions between the traditional sources of Muslims – South Asia, and more recent migration from the Middle East and Africa. We have seen this play otu in just the last week with battles over the main Auckland mosque.

The Embassy also looks at the Wahhabi faction of , and the internal politics within NZ:

In a meeting with ConOff, XXX2, president of [REDACTED], said FIANZ is essentially a Sunni establishment. X said Shias do not feel represented by the national organization. Although X claimed there are no tensions between FIANZ and the Shia community, X criticized FIANZ for not doing enough to educate New Zealanders about Islam.

And

Contrary to assertions by XXX1 (see ref A) that there are no extremists in New Zealand, XXX3 told Conoff that Wahhabi groups have “overtly tried to influence New Zealand’s Muslim society.” XXX3 said [REDACTED] has sponsored speakers from Hizb ut-Tahrir and Al Haramain. XXX3 claimed these two groups receive Saudi money for their activities. [REDACTED]‘s alleged drift towards or tolerance of Wahhabi ideology made it difficult for Shias and even some Sunnis to stay with the group, and so XXX3 and other disaffected members left to form [REDACTED].

And a warning:

Reftel A showed that the first large wave of Muslim immigrants from the 1960s through the 1980s had no choice but to interact with their non-Muslim neighbors, and was thus quickly initiated into traditional New Zealand life. They were largely English-speaking, educated service providers whose language abilities and job skills dovetailed with Kiwi society. However, since the 1990s, immigrants with limited language and educational backgrounds have come into an already established Muslim community with mosques, Halal meat butchers, and government services available in their native language. If not carefully managed, this could lead to the kind of insulation seen in some Muslim populations in Europe that can potentially serve as a breeding ground for homegrown extremists. While we don’t see extremism taking hold here yet, our GNZ counterparts and many Muslim leaders recognize the ingredients are there.

But the Embassy also followed domestic politics closely – not just the national race, but even electorate contests, as seen in this cable about the Auckland Central race in 2008:

The National Party is making a serious play for , an electorate that has been in nearly uninterrupted Labour control for almost a century. That a 28-year-old virtual unknown has a serious chance of ousting a Labour stalwart demonstrates just how vulnerable the Labour Party is in this election cycle.

That was their summary. And they profile the electorate:

The electorate is dominated by well-educated young adults. It has the lowest proportions of children and pensioners of any electorate in the country, but the highest proportion of people in their twenties. It is the third-wealthiest electorate in the country, but is socially liberal. It ranks last of all New Zealand electorates in the percentage of inhabitants identifying themselves as Christian, and first among those who ascribe to no religion at all. It has the country’s lowest share of married residents, but highest share of partners in non-marriage relationships. It has a higher ratio of single people than any other electorate.

And in this cable they look at the Chinese vote in NZ:

New Zealand’s Chinese can be divided between those with deep roots in the country and more recent arrivals. Members of the first group trace their ancestry to the market gardeners and Otago gold miners that arrived in New Zealand as far back as the mid-19th century. Their forebears suffered overt racism and often toiled in poverty on the margins of society.

4. (SBU) Members of this group to this day often keep a low political profile. While many enjoy a standard of living their grandparents could not have dreamed of, they often stay loyal to the Labour Party. They remember Labour as the social welfare party that was most ready to help the working class and as the most racially tolerant party. This loyalty is weakening as Chinese Kiwis grow wealthier and as the National Party leaves race-baiting in its past.

The 70% of Chinese who arrived in New Zealand after 1991 make up the second group.

So a 30/70 split between those with traditional loyalties to Labour and those who are more heterogenous in their voting.

Huo nonetheless remains Labour’s most important Chinese candidate. Despite not getting the nod to run in , Huo was given a far higher place on the party list than Tawa. Indeed, Huo placed higher on the list than a number of veteran Labour MPs. In a meeting with the CG, Huo’s lack of partisan passion was notable. While paying lip service to Labour policies, his remarks suggested he was drawn into politics not to support a particular ideology, but because the Chinese community’s voice “was not being heard.”

A fascinating insight into the Labour MP.

Huo argued that National’s Wong “does not connect well” with most Chinese New Zealanders because she’s from Hong Kong and speaks Cantonese rather than Mandarin. …

Also, like Huo, Wang told the CG that Wong is “not Chinese enough” and that Botany’s Chinese would prefer a Mandarin speaker like himself to a Cantonese speaker like Wong.

The importance of language!

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9 Responses to “What the US Embassy was interested in”

  1. reid (15,917 comments) says:

    In some areas, they have done an analysis which is superior to anything I have read in the local media.

    Doing a superior analysis to the local media is fairly standard practice for most everybody from about the age of two and upwards.

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  2. redqueen (452 comments) says:

    Well said, Reid…so true :)

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  3. wf (371 comments) says:

    The comments DF quoted seem pretty sensible to me.

    It is up to the Muslim people themselves to demonstrate maturity (not tribalism, of which have enough already) in their adaptation to NZ life. We can only hope that the Muslim leadership remains moderate and promotes tolerance of varying religious practice so we can all benefit from the richness different cultures bring to our society.

    As for the Chinese, it seems that Mandarin and Cantonese are demonstrating, that language can cause division quite as well as religion. And Maori customs vs European . . . .

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  4. Diziet Sma (109 comments) says:

    I’m glad the Americans are keeping an eye on things whilst the pakehas are intoxicated with the latest royal wedding, china releases.
    “… cause for twenty odd years we’ve been living next door to Allah,
    Allah, who the fuck is Allah?”

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  5. TCrwdb (246 comments) says:

    Agreed Reid, sad but true.

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  6. Steve (4,491 comments) says:

    “… cause for twenty odd years we’ve been living next door to Allah,
    Allah, who the fuck is Allah?”

    Very clever, my sense of humour just woke up

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  7. adam2314 (377 comments) says:

    Hulun Dark has much to answer for .

    It was she who imported those of limited language and educational backgrounds from the Sub-Continent.

    Rorts !!. You ain’t seen nothing yet with that lot growing in numbers.

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  8. tvb (4,196 comments) says:

    The quality of the analysis and the superb English leaves all our dreadful journalists far far behind. Even Fran osullivan who has excellent analysis often has her columns spoilt by clumsy English. These cables written by mid level officials are probably read by half a dozen state department officials so they do not represent policy. I think most people can understand that.

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  9. Shazzadude (505 comments) says:

    I wonder if Huo will run this time in Botany. National will likely run the non-Chinese Jami-Lee Ross this time, so you would think Huo would have a good chance at keeping the margin below 5,000, giving Goff the opportunity to claim a similar unwarranted victory to the one Key claimed in Mana.

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