OnPoint by Keith Ng

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OnPoint: My last name sounds Chinese

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  • Paul Brislen,

    So this is the Labour Party of today.

    I want no part of it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 200 posts Report

  • Scott A,

    Superb rebuttal of Twyford's racist dog whistle, Keith. Thank you.

    The wilds of Kingston, We… • Since May 2009 • 133 posts Report

  • Raymond A Francis,

    We like to think the Left are all about equality but when push comes to shove don't they run
    And let us not forget the shameful reaction of the Labour Government when Maori asked for the return of rights to the foreshore and beaches

    45' South • Since Nov 2006 • 578 posts Report

  • Mark Graham,

    Exactly. Our evidence is overwhelming number of Chinese buying here live here, and most of those from overseas buying here, WANT to live here. I like Phil a lot and he's taken National to take over crap housing policy but this is BS and an own goal.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 218 posts Report

  • Jonathan King,

    Where do NZ publisher David Ling, politician John A. Lee or, say, English science writer Marcus Chown fit on Labour’s list? None of whom are, as far as I know, remotely Chinese but they, you know, “sound” it.

    Since Sep 2010 • 185 posts Report

  • Tze Ming Mok,

    What the actual fuck. Unbelievable, if not only for forgetting about that other stereotype about Chinese people being good at maths. FATAL ERROR.

    On the upside, this is a great excuse for telling the Labour Party to stop spamming me with petition emails.

    SarfBank, Lunnin' • Since Nov 2006 • 154 posts Report

  • Katharine Moody,

    Regardless of what/who is causing the price bubble – the alarming fact is in the rapidly increasing mortgage indebtedness of local New Zealanders;



    And this is occurring at a time when a large percentage of the population is likely to be (or at least should be) de-leveraging (buying down or paying off debt) in preparation for retirement.

    I just wish we had a foreign buyers register – then as a public we wouldn’t need to speculate with questionable data – and thus ethnicity wouldn’t be a targeted issue. Fact is the world is awash with ZIRP created debt. If all that foreign investment were in employment creating industry – fine. But in residential housing – it’s a recipe for absolute local disaster – as we are witnessing in Auckland.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2014 • 798 posts Report

  • Tim Darlington,

    They have one piece of real data: “39.5% of last names in a list of house sales sound Chinese”

    Even that piece of data is well dodgy. How do they define "sounds Chinese?" Raymond Ching used to get people asking him about his Chinese heritage all the time, not that he had any. I'm reasonably well-educated by local standards, which means largely ignorant when it comes to anything to with east and south-east Asia, and your name sounds Vietnamese to me rather than Chinese, presumably because I've seen lots of Vietnamese names starting with 'Ng.' Hopefully Labour had someone more familiar with Asian cultures than me casting judgement on what names "sound Chinese."

    Since Nov 2006 • 56 posts Report

  • Tze Ming Mok, in reply to Tim Darlington,

    Yeah no. I'm pretty confident that the 'Chinese sounding names' are actual Chinese names; their technique may be the most credible bit of their methodology. The names on the top most part of the list are clearly Mainland Chinese surnames using PRC-standardised spellings, while lower down you have the non-PRC Chinese spellings. It's just the extrapolation to residency status that is moronic, as Keith notes above.

    And, no, I don't know any Southeast Asians who would think Ng is a Vietnamese name. It's a very common Cantonese Chinese name. Maybe you are thinking of Nguyen, which is the most common Vietnamese surname.

    SarfBank, Lunnin' • Since Nov 2006 • 154 posts Report

  • TracyMac,

    Yeah, I'm in Auckland today, and was going to pick up a paper. Well, I did, and promptly dropped it again.

    For all the people bleating about lefties spending too much time on "identity politics" and "PC", THIS is partly what it's about. It's not just about sexual minorities wanting to get married. It's about people who may look and sometimes act differently to Mr Pavalova Paradise being treated as equals, and not being subjected to dog-whistling for cheap political point-scoring, or outright racism.

    Canberra, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 701 posts Report

  • Seriatim,

    "...But when his headline is screaming “the Chinese are buying all our houses..."
    On the contrary, what the headline is screaming to me is "Foreign non-resident buyers are a major cause of our housing issues, and both a foreign buyers register and legislation to address this is urgently needed."
    People with half a brain can see that the Asian surname thing is simply a convenient way to make an important point, and it is unfortunate that some will leap at the 'race card' cliches instead of addressing it.

    Wellington • Since Dec 2010 • 57 posts Report

  • TracyMac, in reply to Seriatim,

    Uh, making “important points” by spouting a bunch of unsupported bollocks doesn’t strike me as the best way to bolster an argument.

    If you had real numbers of non-resident property owners, you might have something to discuss. Personally, I’d be much more interested in the number of people who own more than 3 properties they rent out.

    Canberra, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 701 posts Report

  • Katharine Moody,

    Barfoot and Thompson Managing Director Peter Thompson was quoted as disagreeing with Labour's analysis, but acknowledged there were many buyers from China.

    "We know there's been a large portion of Asians buying property but there's no way to tell if they're one of three categories: NZ born, foreign-born NZ citizens or foreign-born foreign citizens. If you asked me about Asian non-residents, I'd probably say between 5 and 8 per cent," Thompson was quoted as saying.

    Problem is - in real estate it is the top price paid for a similar property that sets the expectation with respect to asking prices. So even if the number of offshore buyers is as Barfoot's MD suggests - if they are able/prepared to pay more, they set the market price. We had this same thing happen once with a beachfront property we owned. A UK buyer came in and purchased a house (sight unseen) down the road at more than 50% above its market price at the time. Everyone's expectations rose with that sale - and the RVs rose similarly in the next valuation round.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2014 • 798 posts Report

  • Tom Semmens,

    And, no, I don’t know any Southeast Asians who would think Ng is a Vietnamese name.

    South East Asians largely live in South East Asia. In this neck of the forest most people are not experts in the geographical origins of Chinese surnames. Therefore, if you ask any Kiwi it is hardly surprising they’ll tell you Ng is Vietnamese, probably because almost all the Ng’s in NZ in the past came from Vietnam and not Canton.

    I have friends who are house hunting who all have so far proven capable of being furious at the number of non-resident Chinese buying houses at crazy prices they can’t afford without getting the hate on for Chinese in general. Twyford is reflecting the lived reality of a lot of Aucklanders using whatever statistics he can because the government refuses to even collect them, and accuses anyone who asks for them of being a racist.

    So I wouldn’t get hung up on this “racist dogwhistle”. I think the only people getting outraged about it are some of the PA crew, who seem to love getting offended about stuff like this. Falling into the government trap of accusing anyone who wants to talk about the issue a racist (you can practically guarantee Farrar will coo about this post over in the sewerblog) is really, really stupid.

    How about demanding the government actually collect statistics on this, so we can debate the issue with proper numbers instead of getting annoyed at an elected representative trawling through surnames in an attempt to get a handle on a problem being reported to him by everyone trying to buy a house?

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report

  • Craig Ranapia,

    and it is unfortunate that some will leap at the 'race card' cliches instead of addressing it.

    Yeah, it's unfortunate that we have a serious and complex public policy issue and the Labour Party response has been to shop bullshit junk stats to media outlets with a long and shabby history of xenophobic race-baiting.

    Keith has "addressed" it by calling bullshit on feckless and irresponsible dog-whistling, and what's seriously unfortunate is people like you and Tom hand-waving it off as a trivial distraction from real issues blah blah fucking blah...

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report

  • jh,

    Government is supposed to be in the best interests of New Zealanders:

    Savings Working Group
    January 2011

    “The big adverse gap in productivity between New Zealand and other countries opened up from the 1970s to the early 1990s. The policy choice that increased immigration – given the number of employers increasingly unable to pay First-World wages to the existing population and all the capital requirements that increasing populations involve – looks likely to have worked almost directly against the adjustment New Zealand needed to make and it might have been better off with a lower rate of net immigration. This adjustment would have involved a lower real interest rate (and cost of capital) and a lower real exchange rate, meaning a more favourable environment for raising the low level of productive capital per worker and labour productivity. The low level of capital per worker is a striking symptom of New Zealand’s economic challenge.


    On other government policy issues, SWG recommendations include:
    - A much more strategic and integrated approach to policy generally.
    - Serious consideration of the impact of the level and variability of immigration on national saving, and the impact that this might have on the living standards of New Zealanders. There are indications that our high immigration rate has pushed up government spending, house prices and business borrowing.
    - Improving data on household and business saving.


    Since May 2007 • 103 posts Report

  • Sudhvir Singh,

    Good on you Keith for a prompt dressing down of this. Jessica Williams brought up your analysis on the Nation this morning http://www.3news.co.nz/tvshows/thenation/panel-sudhvir-singh-jessica-williams--matthew-hooton-2015071110#axzz3fXCTJsRF

    Auckland • Since Apr 2013 • 8 posts Report

  • Peter Green,

    If Chinese people are disproportionately engaged in speculation, are they disproportionately selling as well as buying (that’s how speculation works, right?)?

    According to the report in The Herald, yes they are.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2011 • 21 posts Report

  • llew40,

    Labour have pushed this line before, at the time I couldn't understand why they were so keen to appropriate NZ First policies.... They must have some research that is telling them it's a vote winner. Instead of dog-whistling 'foreign investors' I would have thought a more natural fit would be target the multi nationals avoiding paying hundreds of millions each year into tax base. But no.

    Since Nov 2012 • 140 posts Report

  • Steve Curtis,

    Cant we clear this up by taking a reasonable sample of the names, looking up the property register and then finding out if the resident or non resident category is 5% or up to 50%.

    After all the type of analysis that Tywford has done is not that far off from that done by the Ministry for decile gradings for schools. Which is look up address, get the average income for that mesh block and 'assign a $ value ' for that pupils parents income.

    In both cases the 'real income' or 'ethnicity' doesnt come into it. A large group of persons have a numerical value or ethnicity which may or may not be be their actual value.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 314 posts Report

  • Alfie, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    So I wouldn’t get hung up on this “racist dogwhistle”. I think the only people getting outraged about it are some of the PA crew, who seem to love getting offended about stuff like this.

    I agree wholeheartedly Tom. I almost walked away from this post in the expectation that I'd be attacked for being xenophobic. As Seriatim said above:

    On the contrary, what the headline is screaming to me is "Foreign non-resident buyers are a major cause of our housing issues, and both a foreign buyers register and legislation to address this is urgently needed.

    It doesn't matter a damn whether it's cashed-up Chinese buyers or Russian oligarchs. Offshore buyers are seriously distorting New Zealand's property market, attracted by potentially huge and untaxed capital gains.

    The reason China is mentioned so often is that they're the predominent foreign buyer worldwide. Andrew Taylor, co-founder of juwai.com - the Chinese property website says...

    Chinese buyers don't want your house, they want the land"

    Chinese investors spent $38 billion to $50 billion buying houses overseas last year. That pushes up prices and cuts out local buyers. For that reason there are growing restrictions all over the world on foreigners buying land, particularly large blocks of productive land.

    I support foreign investment which helps our country to grow - but selling off the family silver is short-term thinking. As NZ continues it's dive towards third world status, maybe we can take a leaf out of the Cook Islands' book. Foreigners cannot buy any land in Rarotonga. You can lease land for up to 99 years, but it will always remain in Cook Islands' hands. I like that approach and believe NZ needs to head in that direction. Australia's new builds only restriction for offshore buyers is also effective.

    If there's one thing that's plain from Labour raising this issue, it's the obvious need for a register of foreign buyers. How can you hold a reasonable discussion on this subject when the government point blank refuses to gather the necessary stats.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1440 posts Report

  • Sacha,

    I guess this answers the question of whether Labour is shifting left or right. How proud they must be at their smarts.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report

  • Ian Dalziel,


    Adamant, redux... flush, even...
    Twyford must be aiming for a position high up in Winston Peters' NZ First caucus...
    I'd always heard of Twyfords' rich history in China
    - but mostly of the vitreous sort, rather than vitriolic...

    source: http://twyfordshistory.blogspot.co.nz/p/recipes.html

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7953 posts Report

  • TracyMac, in reply to Alfie,

    It doesn't matter a damn whether it's cashed-up Chinese buyers or Russian oligarchs.

    What a shame, then, that Twyford doesn't give you any information about either.

    Canberra, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 701 posts Report

  • Steve Barnes,

    Two things...
    1. There has been anecdotal "evidence" of foreigners buying up Auckland properties, many point their fingers at people from China. This "data" has been bandied about and people are asking "why isn't the Government doing something about it"
    This is the racist part, that many New Zealanders are racist, it is ingrained, it is not Labours fault.
    The Government have done what they normally do when asked about something, they "refute" it, obviously with no actual refutation, and deny the question. They then go about the daunting task of collecting no information because... well... National.
    When Labour try to hold National to task over what appears to be a correlation between "people with Chinese sounding names" and a large swathe of property sales National comes back with "Labour is racist and don't know anything because there is no real data" and proceeds to blame Labour for the extinction of the Dinosaurs.

    2. Baring in mind Europeans make up 56% of population and Maori 8%
    Top 20% socio economic group:
    European 70%
    Maori 2%
    Income over 50k:
    European 76%
    Maori 7%
    House buyers:
    European 40.7%
    Maori 3.2%
    Play with percentages all you like these numbers tell a much bigger story but the fact remains, New Zealand is a racist country and Twyford is a New Zealander.
    Shock Horror.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report

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