I believe citizenship is important, and that having the right incentives for migrants to become citizens can contribute greatly to more harmonious society – especially if as part of becoming a citizen, the core values of New Zealand can be communicated. And yes I do mean especially the separation of state and religion, commitment to free speech etc.
Australia does this very well, and you see TV ads encouraging residents who are not citizens to “become an Australian today”. Now I don’t quite go that far but we should be doing something.
But one at the end of the day needs incentives also, and NZ is one of the few countries where there is almost no difference in law between a permanent resident and a citizen. You need to be a citizen to be an MP, but not to vote.
Over time (ie grandfather in existing permanent residents) I would like to see voting restricted to citizens. Not as a punishment for residents, but as an incentive to become a citizen, become a New Zealander and make a commitment to NZ.
Feedback is welcome on this issue. Do people think we should promote citizenship more? What time limit should there be before someone can become a citizen? What rights should citizens have, beyond other residents? Should residents wanting to become citizens undergo some sort of test or course about New Zealand?