WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand's Asian population is growing faster than any other ethnic group and will outnumber indigenous Maori by 2026, government figures released Wednesday showed.
The findings drew the ire of an anti-immigrant party that contends the door should be shut on Asian immigrants, claiming they do not integrate into mainstream society.
"If we continue this open door policy there is real danger we will be inundated with people who have no intention of integrating into our society. The greater the number, the greater the risk," New Zealand First Party deputy leader Peter Brown said.
Ethnic Affairs Minister Chris Carter condemned the comments.
"I think he's absolutely being racist," Carter said. "He shouldn't be condemning people because of their race or culture."
The chief executive of the country's Employers and Manufacturers Association, Alasdair Thompson, said Brown's comments were "racial stereotyping of the worst sort."
"We need our newer migrants. We don't need Mr. Brown's racism," he said.
United Asian Association spokesman Ken Yee welcomed the figures, saying the projected rise in Asian numbers would mean "more color and cultural diversity" that would only be a good thing, National Radio reported.
New Zealand First currently has seven lawmakers in Parliament and is a support party in the governing coalition led by the center-left Labour Party. New Zealand First's leader, Winston Peters, holds the post of foreign minister.
A general election is due by late November, and Brown's party, which has a longstanding policy against immigration, is garnering less than 5 percent of voter support nationwide in current polls.
According to government statistics, the nation's four main ethnic populations of Maori, Pacific Islanders, Asian and ethnic European peoples will all increase in the next 18 years, with those identifying as Asian set to grow the most.
A projected increase of the Asian population by 3.4 percent a year, mainly by migration, over the period to 2026 would see the Asian population double from 400,000 in 2006 to 790,000 by 2026, according to government statistician Geoff Bascand.
Some 16 percent of New Zealand's total population was expected to identify with Asian ethnicity by 2026, Bascand said. By then, New Zealand's overall population was projected to be 5.5 million from the current 4.2 million.