One in six Māori now living in Australia

This year Simon Ranginui made the decision to migrate to Australia, joining 128,430 other Māori who have made Oz their home. (Photo: supplied).

08 May 2018

Debin Foxcroft – Stuff

There are a lot of reasons why Simon Ranginui made the move to Brisbane, and racism was one of them.

“New Zealand is racist, no matter how you look at it,” he says.

A new book by historian and filmmaker Brad Haami has detailed how the Māori population in Australia – known, he said, as “Mozzies” or “Ngāti Kangaroo” – has exploded since the 1960s.

One sixth of all Māori now lived in Australia, and one in three of those were born there, he said.

For his part, Ranginui said Māori were valued in Australia as hard workers.

Maori Volcanics

The Māori Volcanics in their heyday. (SPL)

Originally from Hamilton, Ranginui said the prejudice against Māori in New Zealand was one factor that lead him to leave home.

Money and opportunity was another.

“I wanted to have a bit of a break after running businesses for the 12 years. I thought about just getting a job in New Zealand but the money’s not good, not compared to here.”

Some friends encouraged him to make the jump with his wife and three children.

For now, the gamble seemed to be panning out, Ranginui said.

“This will never be home. I stay in touch with my whānau, but it’s a good life.”

While Ranginui said he planned to eventually return to New Zealand, many Māori have chosen to stay across the Tasman.

More than 128,430 people identified themselves as Māori on the 2011 Australian Census.

In his new book Urban Māori: the Second Great Migration, Brad Haami traced the waves of Māori movement from the rural areas into the cities, and from New Zealand to Australia.

“Once people had shifted to the cities, it was quite easy to make the jump across the Tasman.”

The West Aucklander said one sector that thrived in Australia were the Māori show bands of the 1950s and 1960s.

“The musicians didn’t get as much of a fair go in New Zealand as they did in Australia.”

Bands like the Māori Hi-Five and the Māori Volcanics established loyal followings in the Gold Coast and Sydney.

In his book, Haami said there were pitfalls to migrating.

Changes to Australian legislation has meant New Zealanders couldn’t access social security and other government benefits.

Also, the Māori community in Australia had yet to establish a marae.

Haami said that despite the hurdles, the “mass migration” of Māori appeared to be continuing.

“Anecdotally, at least, there seems to be more Māori moving to Australia than ever before but there’s also a slow trickle home.”

Urban Maori

Bradford Haami’s new book recounts Māori urban migration in New Zealand and to Australia. Available from Oratia Media.

[Read the Stuff article].

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