3 Dec 2009

Demographer disputes 'Maori bludgers' portrayal

9:50 pm on 3 December 2009

A Victoria University demographer says the Australian media have misrepresented his work by depicting Maori across the Tasman as bludgers.

James Newell's analysis of census data found that Maori were migrating to Australia at a greater rate than Pakeha, and migrants also tended to be less skilled than those who headed further afield.

He says the fact that Maori are more likely to be machine operators and labourers than accountants or lawyers doesn't mean they're not contributing.

They're skilled, Mr Newell says, and they work hard - probably "harder than their Australian counterparts" - they don't put such a burden on the tax system and they also bring to Australia the benefits of the training they had in New Zealand.

"It would be good to get that message across in the Australian media at the moment," Mr Newell says, adding that Maori have been targeted because they are so visible - particularly on Brisbane streets.