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  • Island Time: New Zealand's Pacific Futures by Damon Salesa
  • Masami Tsujita Levi
Island Time: New Zealand's Pacific Futures, by Damon Salesa. Wellington: Bridget Williams Books, 2017. isbn 978-1-988533-53-7; 256 pages, notes, acknowledgments, about the author, about bwb texts. Paper, nz $14.99; e-book, nz $4.99.

Lō'ihi, an active, submerged volcano off the southern coast of Hawai'i Island, is generating powerful forces from the depths of the Pacific Ocean. Although not yet visible above water, it will one day break through the surface to become the newest Hawaiian island. Lō'ihi is an apt metaphor for Damon Salesa's assertion that a similar break will emerge shortly from the depths of Aotearoa/New Zealand society, where strong Pacific communities have been forming. Their power and energy are now a bubbling magma ready to erupt into a new era. Unfortunately, some New Zealanders refuse to acknowledge this predictable future, instead turning a blind eye to the growing presence and influence of Pacific peoples. The bottom line, Salesa argues, is that New Zealand's future will be a Pacific one, whether or not the country is ready for it.

Island Time: New Zealand's Pacific Futures is a farsighted examination into how New Zealand's future will be shaped by its past and present. Salesa begins by describing how New Zealand is in "Island time"—a future that is in clear sight—regarding its demographic transitions. In Auckland, for example, 1 in every 4 babies born is of Pacific descent, 1 in 4 is Asian, and nearly 1 in 5 is Māori, signifying that "Auckland and New Zealand are becoming more Pacific by the hour" (7). According to Salesa, this changing demography is the result of several historic waves of migration, stretching back to the arrival of Europeans in New Zealand. This transition, Salesa argues, implies that Europeans will no longer remain the dominant ethnic group in power; the future of New Zealand's economy will increasingly rest in the hands of persons of Pacific, Asian, and Māori descent. Although this is not a future that New Zealanders who believe in the continuity of the long-standing power hierarchy might expect, it reflects today's realities.

Despite this, Salesa points out that New Zealand has yet to change its course for the future. This inaction is due partly to New Zealanders, particularly those of European descent, adamantly refusing to see themselves as Pacific Islanders. Instead, they continue to perceive Pacific peoples in New Zealand solely as marginalized labor migrants. This is a view that has been constructed through a regional economic hierarchy and a sense of white supremacy rooted in the colonial history that separates New Zealand settlers from Pacific peoples. It is used to justify the centrality of European descendants in New Zealand society and allows the continued segregation of Pacific Islanders through residential location, education, occupation, homeownership, health care, and political representation. According to Salesa, the term "racial segregation" is not used commonly among New Zealanders, and many may find it offensive. Unfortunately, however, it describes the realities of Auckland.

This book is a timely publication, as New Zealand is experiencing rising tensions among its diverse population. [End Page 285] It reveals Salesa's deep sense of responsibility as a New Zealand citizen and a scholar to explore this sensitive issue through a critical examination of statistical data and his own experience, which together indicate that New Zealand—Auckland in particular—is a racially segregated space. The 2006 census, for example, identified 477 neighborhoods located in Auckland that were predominantly Pacific, while only 61 neighborhoods were Asian, even though eighty thousand more Asians than Pacific Islanders live in the city (46). This suggests that more Pacific peoples live in racially concentrated areas, isolated and segregated, particularly from Aucklanders of European descent. Ironically, racial segregation is widening in a city whose citizens are ostensibly set against it (54).

Furthermore, racially segregated neighborhoods mirror segregation in schools. Some schools located in certain areas have no Pacific students, while others have no students of European descent. This is also a result of choice; some parents of European descent prefer to...