I recommend this Spinoff article about National leader Simon Bridges’s and former protege Jami-Lee Ross’s conversation about the relative merits of different Asian ethnicities on the National candidates’ list. (The full conversation, recently leaked by Ross, is here.)
I have often noticed that Labour and the Greens are bad at putting forward elected representatives of Asian, especially Chinese descent. National have put forward more Asian and Chinese MPs, and I thought this was to their credit. However, this conversation gives insight into the ugly motivations behind National’s ethnic inclusion.
The starkest and most widely-quoted comment, “two Chinese would be more valuable than two Indians”, was made by Ross, who could be seen to have been deliberately goading Bridges to sound bad on a secret recording.
However, Bridges is far from off the hook—fact I’d say he’s more guilty than Ross of the cynical racist way of using rather than representing Asian communities. The topic of relative value of ethnicities was brought up in the conversation by Bridges, who said it “depends where we’re polling” as to whether they should have “Two Chinese” or “One Chinese [and] one Filipino”. The implication is that the only reason to have non-white people in the caucus is to win votes from those communities. Ross’s comment was a reflection and expansion of Bridges’ point. Also, Bridges agreed with Ross’s stark comment by offering a reflection and expansion of his own (rather than stepping in as a leader to correct Ross for expressing the issue in terms of relative value). Perhaps worst of all, Bridges also immediately thought of the two current Indian National MPs, saying “which is what we’ve got at the moment, right?”. This reveals that he thinks in these ways about his existing MPs, not just about hypothetical future MPs during a conversation about strategic nomination decisions to get ethnic communities on board.