Immigrants to New Zealand have to do their part

New Zealand immigrants of all races and religions have to do their part by integrating and assimilating into the New Zealand way of life. A person who is a New Zealander first and an immigrant second will fight against anything that threatens the New Zealand way of life because they will feel part of New Zealand society. In Britain, Muslim immigrant communities have not integrated or assimilated but have formed Muslim ghettos. Instead of encouraging Muslims to change their ways the Muslim Council of Britain which is similar to FIANZ is blaming white British people for the situation.

A senior representative of the Muslim Council of Britain has said that white British people have a responsibility to integrate more to prevent communities becoming ghettoised.

His comments come in response to an official report warning that many of Britain?s towns and cities have been transformed ?out of all recognition? by mass immigration.

The report, by the government?s community cohesion tsar Dame Louise Casey, warned that parts of British towns had been turned into ghettoes which successive governments have ignored ?for fear of being branded racist or Islamophobic?, and which are creating ?escalating divisions and tensions?.

But Miqdaad Versi, assistant secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, has struck back, writing for The Guardian that Casey is wrong to blame Muslim communities. Instead, he said white flight and economic inequality were greater problems ? and that white people ought to do more to tackle them…

When my Dad was a boy living in Australia, Greek immigrants in his area would all buy houses in the same street until the street was all Greek families. They would buy or start businesses and my dad was happy to be their customer but they did not want English speaking Australians as their customers and their actions made my dad feel very unwelcome in his own country. The signs on the shops were not in English. When my dad attempted to buy something in a shop the shopkeeper could not speak English. The shopkeeper had no interest in trying to communicate with the young boy that my dad was back then and shooed him out of his shop.The Greeks back then were not integrating. They were focussed on building a self-contained Greek community within Australia.

Decades later when I lived in Melbourne I was a customer in a Greek run deli. The food was amazing and the Greek owner spoke English, had English signage and was welcoming. His shop was amongst many other shops and they were run by Asian?Australians, white Australians and every other type of Australian.

Already in New Zealand, we are seeing Muslim neighbourhoods forming. People talk about white flight but people would not move if they didn’t feel like visitors in their own country. The responsibility for integration begins and ends with immigrants to New Zealand. They need to learn to speak English, use English signage in their businesses and most importantly they need to dress like New Zealanders instead of like?strangers.

Both sets of great grandparents in my family were immigrants.My Dad’s Grandparents moved to Australia from Germany and had to learn to speak English.?By the time my Dad was born a second generation Australian he was as Aussie a bloke as Crocodile Dundee. He was a fair dinkum, true blue Australian and proud of it. My Mum’s grandparents moved to New Zealand from Lebanon with their children. They forbid their children from speaking Arabic as they wanted them to become New Zealanders. My Mum was born here knowing about her Lebanese heritage but she always saw herself as a New Zealander.

I have a photo of four generations of my maternal heritage in a frame on my desk. My great-grandmother is in western clothing but has a unfashionably long skirt that goes all the way to the floor and is wearing a gauze scarf around her neck tied at the front. Her arms are covered to the wrist. My Nana is wearing a typical fifties style dress for that time that has short sleeves and a skirt that ends just below the knees. My Mother is wearing a sixties mini dress with no sleeves and a hemline above the knees and I am sitting on her knee, a toddler in a short sundress. It is an amazing photo because it shows the progress and integration to the Kiwi way of life across the generations.

I am descended from one of the famous Shalfoon brothers of Opotiki?who were business pioneers who traded with the local Maori and used the river to transport goods. My great, great Uncle George Shalfoon was the last owner of the grocery business and on his death, most of the antique stock was given to the Opotiki Museum. He was the brother of my Nana, third from the left. The reason I have shared my family history is because I do not expect any more from immigrants today than my family expected from themselves in the past. Like many Muslims, I too share an Arab heritage but it does not define who I am. I am a true blue New Zealander and if this great multi-cultural experiment is going to succeed here in New Zealand where it has failed in Britain and the rest of Europe, our immigrants need to take a leaf out of my Grandparents book.