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New Zealanders face a nationwide challenge to convince people that cultural differences are an advantage and not a problem, says an academic Massey University.

Yesterday spoke at a conference of the Association of Migration and Investment, Massey University Vice Vice Chancellor Paul Spoonley said while parts of New Zealand were very positive about migrants, others were not convinced.

Hostility towards migrants was highest among people who had no contact with them, he said.

"There are bags that I think we have one day in this country to persuade people that being a migrant and maybe cultural, linguistically or religiously different is an asset, no problem."

A National overview of New Zealand attitudes showed positivity points compared to migrants doubled or tripled compared to those in Europe with the same questions.

He said, however, that there was extreme variation in the results.

Mr. Spoonley said migra Nts from Great Britain or South Africa were received much more favorably than migrants from India or China.

"If we look at what makes a difference in tolerance towards migrants, contact is the most important factor.

" When you go into parts of New Zealand that have no contact with migrants, the level of hostility or heat, as the Asia-New Zealand Foundation talks about, goes up. "

Immigration New Zealand assistant general manager of visa services Peter Elms told the conference New Zealanders valued migrants, but it was dependent on one's circumstances.

Employees and rural communities valued migrants, while those in central cities were less positive were, he said.

"If you are in Auckland and you live in the city's central city area, I suspect that your views on migration are slightly different. "

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