Foreign Lives Matter | Scoop News

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Foreign lives matter, especially (but by no means only)
when they are our foreigners.

As intimated on 15 March
2019, our foreigners include all non
New Zealand citizens in New Zealand, at a given point in
time (the ‘present’). And our foreigners include all non New
Zealand citizens normally resident in New Zealand (a wider
group than persons with ‘permanent residence’ immigration
status) but not presently in New Zealand.

Thus, in
‘the present’, many people have two national identities.
This of course includes New Zealand citizens not presently
in New Zealand. (A few – with multiple citizenships –
have more than two ‘present’ national identities.) ‘Our
people’ are made up of citizens, denizens, and

If a major incident happens in New Zealand,
then we as a polity have a duty of care to all people
presently in New Zealand. If a major global incident
happens, we have a duty of care to all New Zealand citizens,
all people in New Zealand, and all people with present
residential rights in New Zealand; that is, to all of ‘our
people’. Our duty of care may include mobility restrictions,
including tight quarantines (eg in airport premises) and
internal border restrictions.


Many countries, including New
Zealand, have a ‘realm’. The United Kingdom has a three-tier
realm, with the United Kingdom countries themselves being
the first tier, the Isle of Man being an example of a
second-tier country, with Bermuda as a third-tier country.
France has a quite complex realm. The United States has a
conceptually simpler realm than France, which includes
American Samoa; it even includes a country which drives on
the left (Virgin Islands).

In the strictly-legal
sense, New Zealand has a two-tier realm. Though I would
argue that New Zealand really has a three-tier realm. The
Chatham Islands are part of the first tier. The Cook
Islands, Niue and Tokelau are the second tier. The third
tier is Samoa, which has a historical constitutional
relationship with New Zealand; a relationship which
continues to involve some duty of care from New

The rights of Cook Islanders to be New
Zealanders are essentially the same as the rights of Manx
people to be British. When we treat them as if they have
less of a right to be in New Zealand than people who are
unambiguously foreigners – people such as Australians who
might want to come to New Zealand for a skiing holiday –
then we move into the peculiar mercantilist way of thinking
which only offers a full set of rights to a core group of

Even today, we deny the right to vote to
citizens in prison. In the nineteenth century (before 1890)
we only gave full New Zealander rights to property-owning
men; everyone else entitled to be in New Zealand was more
denizen than citizen. The current experience – when our
political leaders feint from discussion about the access
rights of New Zealand realm citizens to New Zealand –
shows that, in the mindframe of much of New Zealand’s
political class, these people attached to New Zealand are
denizens rather than citizens.

The word ‘denizen’
conveys the mercantilist concept of ‘monetary utility’ –
denizens are people we embrace when they are ‘making money’
for our country, but whom we feel free to discard as jetsam
when they are no longer doing so, or able to do

Freeing New Zealanders to visit Cook Islands
represents a ‘loss of money’ to core (first tier) New
Zealand. Whereas allowing Australians to ski in Queenstown
represents a ‘gain of money’ to core New Zealand. (This way
of thinking is, of course, one-sided mercantilist nonsense!
They gains from economic transactions are mutual.) Reading
between the lines, we can see that – at least in some
corners of government – an opening to realm countries may
jeopardise the more lucrative opening to Australia. (And an
opening to Cook Islands could then lead to stronger pressure
to open to Samoa.) Indeed, we sense that our relationship to
Australia is very much like the relationship of Cook Islands
and Samoa to New Zealand; we find ourselves pleading to the
bigger (asymmetric) ‘partner’ to do us

Mercantilist Mindframe

As already
noted in earlier writing in this space, we think and behave
today using mindframes largely set in the European
mercantilist era, which is broadly the quarter-millennium
from 1500 to 1750. (Indeed, we are now starting to denounce
James Cook – who came to New Zealand with a relatively
enlightened mercantilist mindset – while continuing,
unquestioningly, to retain most of our mercantilist mental

The words that most define the mercantilist
era are ‘money’, ‘foreign’, and ’empire’. Mercantilist
empires were essentially global commercial empires; global
political empires were creatures mainly of the century 1850
to 1950.

In the mercantilist mindframe, money (‘real
money’) was understood by almost everyone as gold and
silver. Money was won from foreigners by the agents of new
entities called nation states; money was won ‘for a nation’
through exporting, invading, mining, exploiting, plundering
and swindling. If the gold or silver mines that a kingdom
coveted were in some distant land, then your cannon-backed
navy or army would invade and try to annex that land. Thus,
commercial empires – or realms – were

Before 1500, most human societies –
including New Zealand’s – had histories (often long
histories) of slavery, of coerced labour. The concept of
slavery had little to do with the colour of a person’s skin,
though tended to be associated with the ethnicities of
people who had suffered military defeat. Indeed, the word
‘slave’ derives from the ‘Slav’ ethnic group. Thus, slaves
were ‘foreigners’, though by no means all foreigners were

Foreigners were ‘them’; people without rights,
but highly valued for their utility (especially but not only
monetary utility) to ‘us’. (Further, foreign nations were
rivals, much as sporting teams are rivals. Accumulated gold
and silver served as scoring points in the game.) At the
extreme ‘slavery’ end we imported them, exerted property
rights over them, and mainly deployed them in the realm
lands rather than the homelands.

mindframes give license to cold calculated cruelty to people
who could be labelled as ‘foreign’; cruelty by neglect as
well as by overt intent. If we have a narrow conception of
citizenship, then we have a broad conception of ‘foreigner’.
Our denizens become foreigners – without political rights
and open to exploitation – when we adopt this mindset.
Australia’s denizens, including those holding New Zealand
passports, are ‘without political rights and open to

While citizens of any country should
practice kindness towards citizens of all countries, they
should be especially kind to their own denizens, practising
members of their communities.

Conclusion –
he tangata,
he tangata,
he tangata

Zealand needs to behave in a principled rather than a
mercantilist way. New Zealand should be prioritising its
duties of care to its people; including its ‘denizens’,
people subject to New Zealand’s duty of care. Duty of care
always takes priority over ‘loss of money’ considerations.
All people matter. Most of us in New Zealand understand who
our people are, who we should not abandon during the

© Scoop Media


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