Co-leader of the Green Party James Shaw has apologised for the way they announced their immigration policy last year, saying it worsened public debate.
Shaw, speaking at the annual general meeting of the Federation of Multicultural Councils in Dunedin on Saturday, said their immigration policy launch in October of last year had focused too heavily on the numbers and not on values.
The policy set a limit on immigration of one percent of population growth – a cut on current numbers.
After a rush of negative feedback the party took the policy into “review.”
On Saturday, Shaw admitted the policy had contributed to a growing feeling of xenophobia in New Zealand society – although that was never the intent.
“Last year I made an attempt to try and shift the terms of the debate away from the rhetoric and more towards a more evidence-based approach,” Shaw said.
“Unfortunately, by talking about data and numbers, rather than about values, I made things worse.
“Because the background terms of the debate are now so dominated by anti-immigrant rhetoric, when I dived into numbers and data, a lot of people interpreted that as pandering to the rhetoric, rather than trying to elevate the debate and pull it in a different direction.
“We were mortified by that, because, in fact, the Greens have the ambition of being the most migrant-friendly party in Parliament. And I am sorry for any effect it may have had on your communities.”
We want to cut your numbers in half, but in a very friendly way.
The Greens want to halve the number of the migrants who qualify due to their skills, education, investment potential etc but quadruple the number of refugees.