Feeling foreign in own land

November 4, 2008

Dene Mackenzie, who’s taking the political pulse of the country for the ODT, has reached Botany.

People born overseas (49%) outnumber the locals (47.9%) and the electorate has the country’s second-highest proportion of Asian voters (33.5%).

But the strong competition for Chinese votes in particular has created a backlash among other voters.

Three Chinese-born candidates are seeking election.

They are National’s Pansy Wong, Mr Wang and Simon Kan from the Kiwi Party.

. . . At Jacob’s Cafe, only the staff were Asian as I settled down next to Glad and Allan Jamieson. They are both in their 80s and have lived in the village for most of their married life.

They are committed National voters and will be voting for Mrs Wong and giving National their party vote. But even they are starting to feel a bit peeved about the wave of new immigrants and new housing.

. . . Botany residents are split over whether it is good for candidates to be campaigning in languages other than English.

Some spoken to by Taking the Pulse said it was good that the Chinese candidates could talk to voters in their own language.

Others said they would prefer to have everything conducted in English but could not say that publicly in the electorate in case they were branded racist.

It’s difficult when you start feeling like a foreigner in your own country, but speaking your mother tongue is natural.

A young Chilean woman works in a supermarket I shop at. She always speaks to me in Spanish and I always try to answer her in her language but that is very different from what Dene encountered in Botany.

If I lived in another country I’d learn the language, but I’d also be pleased if others used mine.


%d bloggers like this: