Home > The Body Politic > Why Labour should NEVER play the “race card”…

Why Labour should NEVER play the “race card”…


… because National doesn’t like the competition;


Don Brash tells Why I played the race card - orewa speech - national party


It’s a bit rich for National’s Housing Minister, Nick Smith, to be crying crocodile tears on the subject;


Labour accused of playing 'race card' over house price bubble claims


– when, in the last seven years the Nats have;

  • sold off hundreds of State houses – and want to flog of 2,000 more
  • allowed a critical  housing shortage to make Cantabrians’ lives a misery
  • done practically nothing to alleviate a growing housing crisis in Auckland
  • refused to implement a comprehensive Capital Gain Tax, the lack of which is distorting the investment market
  • refused to set up a foreign buyers’ register
  • generally sat on their hands and done the bare minimum to build more housing

On this problem, National is way out of synch with public opinion. (ACT supporters’ public opinion counts for near zero.)

In fact, our esteemed Dear Leader even refuses to acknowledge  that a critical housing crisis exists in Auckland;

“No, I don’t think you can call it a crisis. What you can say though is that Auckland house prices have been rising, and rising too quickly actually.” – John Key, 13 April 2015


John Key no housing crisis in Auckland


My position on this problem (I refuse to call it an “issue”) is clear and simple: land and housing should not be sold to non-New Zealand residents or citizens. If you want to buy a house or farm, become a citizen and move to New Zealand.

This applies to whether you are from Boston, Beijing, or Berlin.

Those free-marketeers who maintain that a property-owner has an unfettered “right” to sell to the highest bidder, irrespective of nationality, are wrong. “Rights” are never absolute. The citizens of a country determine, through concensus, what property rights we confer upon ourselves.

Many other nations do not allow foreign investors to buy houses. China is one of them.

If, as I believe, the majority of New Zealanders are opposed to offshore investors buying up our houses, then that must be reflected in our legislation.

This is (hopefully) not about xenophobia. This is about the next generation of  young New Zealanders having the same opportunities to buy their own home, as their parents and grandparents did.

This is about not allowing an older generation of home-owners flogging their houses off to the highest bidders from Beijing, Boston, or Berlin, at the expense of a younger generation who cannot hope to compete with millionaire investors from overseas.

Our parents and grandparents never had to compete with buyers from Berlin, Beijing, or Boston. So it baffles me why we have saddled our children with this colossal hurdle. The only reasons that come to mind is greed and a misguided ideolological view of an unfettered right to sell to whomever.

Otherwise, if we keep going down this foolhardy road then, as sure as evolution made little green apples, we risk literally becoming tenants in our own country.

If that is our end goal, we are on the right track.





NZ Herald:  Don Brash tells: Why I played the race card

Radio NZ: Labour accused of playing ‘race card’ over house price bubble claims

Radio NZ: Key denies Auckland housing crisis

Other blogs

Bowalley Road: Chinese Whispers

Dim Post: What we talk about when we talk about Chinese people

Dim Post: The racist style in New Zealand politics

No Right Turn: Sounds like racism

Public Address: House-buying patterns in Auckland

Public Address: My last name sounds Chinese

The Pundit: What’s in a name… and a number?

The Standard: International investment in Auckland housing

The Standard: Twyford Responds

The Standard: China Crisis

Previous related blogposts

Kiwis, Cows, and Canadian singers

That was Then, this is Now #10

Doing ‘the business’ with John Key – Here’s How (Part # Rua)

Three Questions to Key, Williamson, Coleman, et al






This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 11 July 2015.



= fs =

  1. Jo
    17 July 2015 at 8:20 am

    So under this logic my parents would not be allowed to buy a house when we moved back, because they were not NZ citizens They had two NZ children but one is South African (who actually did become a NZ citizen much later on and one who was English (and didn’t).

    • 17 July 2015 at 8:35 am

      Correct. Become a New Zealand citizen first.

      As it stands now, Jo, your parents could not buy a house in Auckland now, whether or not they were citizens. The market has been priced out of reach of many (if not most) New Zealanders, and is now the province of overseas investors.

      • Jo
        17 July 2015 at 11:13 am

        So they had the money (not that they ever considered Auckland as a location), they had the will, they had us kids and they had jobs yet they can’t buy a house. They even met and got married here.. They worked, paid tax and had IRD numbers. How racist and stupid is that.

        • 17 July 2015 at 11:33 am

          It’s not “racist” or “stupid” at all.

          My parents became citizens; had a family; and bought their first home in Akatarawa, Upper Hutt.

          What part of becoming a citizen or permanent resident do you have difficulty with?

          • Jo
            17 July 2015 at 11:43 am

            Neither you said citizens not permanent residents which they were (obvious as they were working) My father got transferred by his company back to the UK which is the only reason we left. Were your parents ever in that position? We mad e a conscious choice to come back and settle. Isn’t that what made NZ? Highly educated people coming in and adding to the community. Yet you insist citizenship is the only criteria that counts. Sorry not stupid. Arrogant.

            • 17 July 2015 at 12:05 pm

              You obviously haven’t read my blogpost very carefully then, have you? I refer you to this bit, which you seem to have missed in your haste;

              My position on this problem (I refuse to call it an “issue”) is clear and simple: land and housing should not be sold to non-New Zealand residents or citizens. If you want to buy a house or farm, become a citizen and move to New Zealand.

              You need to think this through carefully, Jo. Your parents would never have been able to complete with overseas investors had they been involved in the housing market at the time they bought their home.

              Just as young New Zealanders can’t hope to to compete with overseas investor now.

              This is what you seem unable to grasp.

              • Jo
                17 July 2015 at 2:19 pm

                They were in no hurry they looked in their preferred area and bought within their set budget (which was realistic). They’d owned their own home since marriage, getting their first deposit by my Uncle buying out Dad’s half of the house they’d bought for their parents. They paid more than 20% interest on their mortgage (the howls about interest rates now make me LOL)

                .I can grasp it but it is Young New Zealanders choice to live in Auckland. I applaud those families who have moved out and bought their dream homes in other parts of the country.

                I didn’t want to buy where I ended up buying but my budget meant I didn’t have the luxury of choice. I sucked it up and have now lived there for 20 plus years.

  2. blueice
    17 July 2015 at 11:56 am

    I truly don’t think most NZers have ANY concept of how much money is coming out of China, or how much bigger that tsunami of money is about to become. My uncle was the first NZer to trade with China after the revolution there.

    He made his first trip in 1957, and between then and his death at the age of 83 he made over 60 visits. He was also involved in the development of the NZ China FTA, but my feeling, from the discussions we had with him over the years, is that this enormous buy up of NZ property of all types was the LAST thing he would have wanted.

    He was VERY aware of the economic power of China, and compared NZ to a flea on an elephant. He had huge admiration and respect for the Chinese people, and a great many close friends in the Chinese community here and in China. I don’t think he would see what the Labour Party has done as racist, but rather a statement of what may well be the truth.

    In the absence of any proper stats (and Labour and National are both at fault there) people will fall back on this sort of information, and anecdotal stories. But if the information Labour has used is anywhere near accurate, why is it racist to talk about it? We know that there is a much higher rate of imprisonment of Maori than Pakeha NZers, but talking about and treating it as a problem that needs to be fixed is generally not considered racist.

    I have heard that a lot of Chinese investors are amazed at how easy it is to buy property here, and think we are just stupid allowing our land to be sold out from under us to all comers (not just Chinese buyers). After all, in China no one owns land, the State owns it all, and Chinese citizens only really buy leasehold property. and foreigners can’t buy.

    I think a huge part of the housing crisis in Auckland is due to almost unfettered immigration, from all over the world and the rest of NZ, not just China. Regardless of where they come from, we are mad to have this policy while there are just not enough houses.

    Even if the regulatory environment was loosened dramatically there is physically no way enough houses can be built in time to house all these people. Next step favelas?? So one major thing the Govt could do is turn that tap off, or down considerably.

    And as Frank said, the other thing would be to stop all non resident investors buying property of all types in NZ (there are going to be lots of foreclosures on dairy farms starting soon, the banks are already starting the process for many farmers, so there will be non resident investors waiting to get in there too).

    There will always be people who will side step the law some how, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t at least try.

    Of course any control over the free movement of labour and capital around the world is anathema to our neolib govt, and the TPP and TiSa agreements which they are absolutely determined to sign us up to will enshrine these two things, so maybe the Govt see no point in legislating when they know that any such laws will simply be a waste of time in the near future.

    People here are starting to get frightened, and enough people are starting to get desperate, that if something isn’t done quickly to get this situation under control then perfectly nice Chinese Nzers will sadly start to suffer the backlash. That will be appalling.

    • 17 July 2015 at 1:12 pm

      Excellent analysis, Blueice.

    • Jo
      17 July 2015 at 2:20 pm

      Good well reasoned points. Especially those last lines.

      • 17 July 2015 at 4:16 pm

        “I can grasp it but it is Young New Zealanders choice to live in Auckland. ”

        Yes, Jo, because that is where the jobs are.

        It’s also where families live, with their friends and other networks. With your comment you dismmisively suggest that New Zealanders no longer live in Auckland because overseas investors have pushed up prices? Is that your logic? That we are now barred from one of our main cities?

        Honestly, your comments make little sense, and it’s as if you’re plucking at straws to explain away a growing problem.

        The only reason you and your parents could buy your homes is because their was no competition from overseas investors. Your “competition” was other New Zealand buyers, who had approximately similar recourse to mortgage funds.

        Overseas investors have access to millions, at very low interest rates, on favourable terms. Often they are cashed up, with no requirement for mortgahe loans.

        That is what people are competing against.


        • Jo
          17 July 2015 at 4:21 pm

          I live in Wellington and I have a job., so does my husband, and all my friends.

  3. Priss
    17 July 2015 at 7:28 pm

    Frank, well sussed as always. I think it was inevitable that we would reach this end-point in the buy-up of New Zealand. With American buying up high country stations and big tracts in the Wairarapa, or Chinese millionaire investors buying up houses in Auckland, it was only time before local New Zealanders would be forced out of the market.

    Jo, I’ve read your comments and either you are a very confused young man or are arguing for the fun of it. I hope you’re enjoying yourself because a lot of young New Zealanders are not. If this is a game for you, shame on you.

    In a way, you represent middle New Zealand, in that you’re naive and willing to overlook the problem simply because your personal circumstances are more fortunate than others. Sorry, Jo, but “I’m alright Jack” doesn’t cut it.

    Then you have the cheek to grease Blueice by complimenting him on his posting which essentially backs up what Frank said!!

    The sooner we ban property sales to non-citizens, the better. I would include permanent residents in any ban, as residency is like getting ‘All Black’ cards out of a WeetBox packet, far too easy to get.

    • Michael B
      17 July 2015 at 7:53 pm

      You’re probably right Priss, but the solution is easy:

      NZ Citizen? Buy it.
      NZ Permanent Resident? Rent it or Build it.
      Foreign Speculator? Go Away.

  4. Jo
    17 July 2015 at 9:36 pm

    No 1 I am not a young man I am a 45 year old woman.

    BlueIce was far more eloquent and a lot less racist and I was impressed by his (?) writing.

    I have been a young New Zealander and feel the latest generation is a “Woah is me” generation. Do we want to go back to the policy of 1881?

    Naive? No far from it. No rose coloured glasses or wishy washy wringing of hands here.

    So Frank because their support is in Auckland they should stay? Pardon me did your parents have a support network when they moved here? Did my parents? If they want to buy move. Pretty simple. Auckland is not alone. London is incredibly expensive as is Sydney is that the Chinese fault as well? It’s happening all over. Welcome to the Global Village.

    BTW my so called luck was a lot of blood. sweat and tears.

    • 17 July 2015 at 10:29 pm

      “A lot less racist”?

      Tell me, Jo, what part of my blogpost was “racist”?

      Please quote me the bit where I picked on one particular ethnic group.

      Also, you’ve not answered my question; why should New Zealanders have to move out of their own city simply because overseas investors are pushing up property prices?

      How would you have felt if you couldn’t buy a property in Wellington? Or Christchurch? Or Dunedin? Would you move to Eketahuna? Huntly? Raetihi? Any small town where unemployment is around 60%? And half the shops on main street are emplty?

      In effect, you’re justifiying the buy-up of New Zealand because you don’t appear to give a shit about anyone except yourself? Charming. All your “blood sweat and tears” would be useless if no matter how much you saved, you were outbidded by offshore buyers.

      Anyway, let me know what part of my blogpost picked on one particular ethnic group. I’m really, really curious.

  5. Jo
    17 July 2015 at 10:49 pm

    Just because you put Berlin, Beijing, or Boston does not hide you’re targeting mainly Chinese investors, “Clever” writing. Last I checked Americans and Germans were not targets and/or accused of property investing.

    • 18 July 2015 at 9:15 am

      So you have no real evidence, Jo? You just threw in the “racism” card because it was easier for you to bandy about an epithet, rather than think through the problem?

      You also accused me of referring solely to citizenship, rather than permanent residents – and I had to point out to you where I did refer to both. I note you forgot to accept that little error on your part.

      You referred to my writing as “racism”, despite not singling out any one particular group.

      Blueice referred specically to Chinese investors thirteen times, but you couldn’t wait to fall over yourself to compliment him by stating that he/she was” far more eloquent and a lot less racist”.

      Meanwhile, I referred generally to overseas investors and you still accuse me of coded racism.

      I think I’ve been fairly tolerant of your comments posted on my blog over the last few years, Jo, even though they were demonstrably some of the most ignorant and ill-considered comments I’ve ever read from a supposedly educated person. But when you engage in throwing around accusations of “racism” – without any evidence to back it up – then I know I’m dealing with a person whose opinion of their own cleverness is highly inflated, and I’m dealing with a fool, or a troll. Or both.

      Unless you have an apology lined up, you may consider your welcome to post here ended.

      Please take your sense of entitlement; your “I’m alright Jack” attitude; and general snide comments and take them somewhere else. Like a “small town”.

    • Priss
      18 July 2015 at 12:31 pm

      “Last I checked Americans and Germans were not targets and/or accused of property investing.”

      Really, Jo? You haven’t been paying much attention then have you? Do you not recall the opposition to the sale of high country stations to American singer, Shania Twain? Or the sale of Young Nick’s Head to New York financier/millionair John Griffin? Or the sale of Wairarapa farmland to US movie-mogul, James Cameron?

      Any demarcation is solely in your mind.

      Suggesting that Frank’s post was racist, but Blue Ice’s was ” a lot less racist”, boggles the mind. You’re obviously playing stupid games here and assigning meaning to Frank’s writing that does not exist except in your immature mind.

      If you think there’s no problem with overseas buyers of our land and houses, it’s only because you are not directly affected yet. But uninformed, SMUG, individuals like you are the first to bleat when it finally impacts on you. You’d be singing a different song if the buy-up of housing was happening in Wellington and your attempts to buy a home was undermined by foreign buyers with millions at their beck and call.

      Like my siblings who are born and raised in Auckland and can’t buy their own homes because they are CONSTANTLY OUTBIDDED by phone-bidders from overseas. You’re suggesting they leave their own home town simply because you can’t deal with the problem? Piss off!!!

      Really, Jo, when I read your garbage I grit my teeth thinking that some New Zealanders can by so ill-informed yet think they’re so clever. You’re anything but. A typical National Party voter, in other words.

  6. Jo
    17 July 2015 at 10:56 pm

    re small town NZ. I would love to live there. I’m actually a rural girl at heart. Aramoana would be bliss (I could commute easily). The more people who move out to them all the better for the small towns. Witness the small dying villages down South after the Quake they’re booming again.

    • Priss
      18 July 2015 at 12:32 pm

      A shame there are no industries or jobs in those small towns, Jo. But you haven’t thought about that have you?

    • 21 July 2015 at 12:02 am

      As it stands, moving out to the provinces is a luxury that’s mostly confined to company directors who can afford to commute by plane (like Sam Morgan in Nelson and Michael Cullen in Bay of Plenty), and those with specialist skills like ICT or freelance journalism that aren’t totally dependent on location. The rest of us still have to turn up to a physical workplace.

  7. Sally's husband
    18 July 2015 at 12:29 am

    Jo, you’re either trolling or are a bit thick. You’re clearly not getting the point Frank has raised.

    The reason you’ve been able to buy your own place is because you weren’t competing with overseas bidders who could always outbid you with mortgage money at 1% or less. Overseas buyers have more cash or have more access to cheaper funds than any local will ever have.

    If you think that’s fair, you have a twisted sense of fairness. Or are just stupid. Take your pick.

  8. blueice
    18 July 2015 at 3:49 pm

    If you really want to see the sort of the problem that non resident investors of ANY colour, nationality or religion have become right around the world, not just here in little ol’ NZed can I suggest you check out this website – http://www.farmlandgrab.org/ – which is trying to keep track of what is happening worldwide, particularly as related to agricultural land. The same forces of globalisation are at work here in the Auckland housing market though.

    Check out http://www.farmlandgrab.org/post/view/25136-chinese-billionaire-buys-two-cattle-stations-in-northern-australia-for-47m – there are some 200 billionaires in China in 2015. Obviously they’re not all going to want to buy property here, but it would only take one or two, plus a few of the one million millionaires that apparently live in China for this “investment” money to completely unbalance our property market. Which it has. It wouldn’t matter whether the buyers were green with pink spots or six legged with a tail. The problem is NOT the race of the buyers it is the sheer QUANTITY of their money.

    And while we are talking about the amount of money in China, here’s a link to an article showing just why the NZ dairy farming sector is pushing shit up hill these days. http://www.farmlandgrab.org/post/view/25115-100-000-cow-power-dairy-farm-in-china-to-feed-russian-market There are vast dairy farms like this in the States too. We cannot compete any more if all we are selling is milk powder.

    If you bother to look at the website though you can clearly see that the problem is not just the Chinese its mega money worldwide. And because the Key govt is devoted to globalisation and corporate welfare in all it’s various disguises we will not be protected from being overwhelmed by mega money.

  9. Samwise
    21 July 2015 at 10:29 am

    Dunno if you’re being thick or wilfully blind, Jo, but Frank was pretty clear when he referred to permanent residents as as well citizens.

    Reading the rest of your rubbish in the Comments, I think you’ve deliberately decided to ignore the issue and gone of into la-la land. Just because you’ve done well doesn’t mean others are doing well. You can’t conflate your privileged situation with others.

    As for telling people to live elsewhere, you have a cheek.. Why should they? That is arrogance on your part.

    If you’re a National supporter, you are everything that is wrong with this country; smug arrogance mixed with wilful ignorance.

    No wonder we’re in the crap, with people like you around,

    Have a nice day.

  10. Samwise
    21 July 2015 at 10:30 am

    “I live in Wellington and I have a job., so does my husband, and all my friends.”

    Well bully for you Jo. Aren’t you just the fucking bees-knees.

    Jesus wept….

  1. 17 September 2015 at 6:21 am
  2. 22 September 2015 at 8:01 am

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