Editorial | Issue 6

Welcoming Refugees To Dunedin

Here in New Zealand, our younger generations are privileged beyond belief. We’ve never had to experience any wars or terror, found ourselves without a home or lived under any tyrannical rulers. Thankfully we live in a free and democratic nation. In just under a couple of weeks Dunedin will lead the country in welcoming refugees to our town. 

As it stands at the moment, New Zealand’s quota will allow 750 refugees into the country over the next three years, but given the Syrian refugee crisis is the worst since World War II, another emergency 600 have been allocated. A tiny amount compared to both Canada and Australia who will respectively take in 25 and 9.6 times more. 

The main reason behind such a low intake of refugees has been attributed to the high costs involved, with the extra 600 Syrian refugees costing $24 million. But surely when a government has the spare cash lying around to propose a change of flag, an extra few dollars could be found in the budget to accommodate more refugees.  

But many will still argue that we should be taking fewer refugees, mainly due to the fear that those who come to our country will threaten our way of life. These people forget that at some point their ancestors also stepped foot on this land for the very first time, bringing with them their own unique culture. What gives us the right to turn our back on those now seeking the safety of our country? 

Those same people will look to the past and say that we are a nation who have always done things this way, insinuating that the past was a better time. But why not look to the future? Think of all the cultural differences refugees can bring to our city and to our nation, to enhance and enrich all of us. As the world in which we live in becomes more global and borders are broken down between nations, why board our self off and say we want no part in it? 

There are also people who will claim that those seeking refugee status are here to bring terror to our country. Sure, there’s some fucking bad people out there who seem intent to rain terror on the innocent, but to tarnish them all with the same brush and say no to the many because of this fear is unconscionable. 

These are good people who have been ruined by war, left with no home and looking for a better life. Although I’m certain they will come here devastated by all they have witnessed, I’m sure that given half an opportunity in a safe land and supported by those in the local community they will thrive, bringing their own culture and spice to life.

Hugh Baird
Critic Editor

This article first appeared in Issue 6, 2016.
Posted 10:11am Sunday 10th April 2016 by Hugh Baird.