Migrants and Values

The headline in the Herald makes it sound like compulsory education for migrants who are already in NZ, but in fact the suggestion by Winston Peters is not without merit when you understand he is talking about this being for prospective migrants, not those already here.

The suggestion is in fact similiar to one Don Brash made last year, and the best example of how it is being applied is in The Netherlands.

NZ has certain core values such as freedom of religion, a secular state, freedom of speech,  democracy, equality for women that define our country.  It can only be a win/win if prospective migrants are aware of these core values, and can judge better if this is a country they would be happy living in.

The best example of how this happens in practice is what the Netherlands now does.  Anyone who wishes to migrate there has to go into an Embassy and watch a 30 minute or so video on Life in The Netherlands.  And (as an example) part of that video shows a gay couple holding hands in a park and kissing, with a narration that there are many gay couples, the country has a decades long history of tolerance and respect for such relationships, and a blunt message that if such sights grievously offend you, then maybe you should think twice about whether you want to move over and live here, because don’t assume the country will suddenly ban same sex relationships.

Now I’m not saying NZ should or needs to do such a blunt approach.  The Netherlands has had some very serious integration problems, which we have escaped in NZ.  But I still think it can only benefit both prospective migrants and NZ, for us to have some sort of assertion and education of our core values.  I don’t think one should have a test on them, as that gets silly.  But education can work wonders to reduce situations where integration will provide difficult.

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