Them and us

Why do people who collect statistics and design survey forms consider race to be more important than any other factors which  define ethnicity?

This morning I completed a survey for Air New Zealand and was pleased that at last it’s possible to be a New Zealand of either Maori or European descent in answer to the question how would you describe your ethnic origin?

  New Zealander/ Kiwi/ New Zealander of European descent
  Maori/ New Zealander of Maori descent
  Pacific Islander
  Middle Eastern
  Eastern European
  Other Asian
  Or another ethnicity (please type in)

 But why can’t New Zealanders of Maori descent be Kwis and what about all the other people who happen to be descended from other races?

Why does having a Scottish father and maternal grandparents allow me to claim New Zealand ethnicity when having antecedents from the Pacific Islands, Asia and North or South America wouldn’t?

And if it’s ethnicity rather than race they’re interested in why European which covers a multitude of ethnicities?

New Zealander isn’t just nationality it’s an ethnicity which takes in all the things which unite us regardless of our race.

This is the 21st century and it’s time statisticians and survey designers caught up with the reality – race is only one aspect of ethnicity. Making it the prime determinant is excluding and inexact.

10 Responses to Them and us

  1. poneke says:

    But why can’t New Zealanders of Maori descent be Kwis

    If you recall your 2005 general election campaign billboards, the answer is clear. Maori are not Kiwi, they are Iwi.

    Kiwi, said the blue side with your leader’s photo.

    Iwi, said the red side with your opponent’s photo.

    Yes it was that blatant.

  2. pdm says:

    I prefer to be able to be a New Zealander rather than a Kiwi. Whenever possible I tick other and write in New Zealander on such surveys that do not include that option.

  3. Bearhunter says:

    I always tick “other ethicity” and enter Irish. Just to confuse them.

  4. pmofnz says:

    Air NZ still haven’t got it right.

    Other – New Zealander is the only choice for me.

  5. gravedodger says:

    On Pt Report Forms on the big white truck there is an ethnicity space.
    If the racial makeup of a patient is to have any serious benefit in something as serious as medical research it would require a far more accurate assessment than just ticking a box that satisfies an apparent need to acknowledge the possibility that someone sees themselves in a specific race category.
    Guess what, how do you think this old git responds to that prompt, yeah right.

  6. JC says:

    One of the big benefits of a tick for ethnicity is the ability to research diseases and NZ has at least one recent world class study of a whole population wrt MS. The ethnicity question is becoming a big factor with this disease.


  7. Rob Hosking says:

    I’m describe myself as a conscientious objector on ethnic questions now & I just refuse to answer. Some of the responses have been….interesting.

  8. homepaddock says:

    Poneke this ethnic thing pre-dated the 2005 billboards and the policy was to ensure we were all NZers.

    PDM – I often do too, but isn’t it silly that any of us regardless of descent could be NZers on an Australian census but not our own.

    GD – I can see why race matters for people picked up by ambulance as it will be recorded soemhere else in the health system if they’re if the accident or illness is serious enough.

    JC – I think it will be race rather than ethnicity which is a factor in disease. If they need to know my race that’s what they should ask for.

    Rob – conscientious objector, that’s a great idea.

  9. poneke says:

    I think it will be race rather than ethnicity which is a factor

    Call me confused, but to me “race” and ethnicity” are interchangable.

    Trying to make them separate seems akin to the PC attempts to replace “sex” on various forms with “gender,” the latter being their preferred term.

    Maybe I’m missing something here.

  10. homepaddock says:

    Poneke – Ethnic is defined as:
    a. Of, relating to, or characteristic of a sizable group of people sharing a common and distinctive racial, national, religious, linguistic, or cultural heritage.
    b. Being a member of a particular ethnic group, especially belonging to a national group by heritage or culture but residing outside its national boundarie.
    2. Relating to a people not Christian or Jewish.
    A member of a particular ethnic group, especially one who maintains the language or customs of the group.

    By that definition race is just one factor in ethnicity.

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