Asian job seekers abandoning traditional surnames to find work in New Zealand

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Auckland, Apr. 3 (ANI): In the hope of easily finding work in New Zealand, Asian job-seekers are not only Anglicising their first names but also abandoning their traditional surnames all-together.

One Chinese woman changed her name to Brenda Jones after failing to get a single job interview in the global recession.

"I was feeling very desperate and very small. Changing my name is not something I am proud of doing, but I really didn't know what else to do," the New Zealand Herald quoted Jones, as saying.

Another Asian job-seeker, who changed her surname from Teoh to May with an English first name, said a job interviewer had advised her to do so.

"She told me that with an Asian surname, employers will automatically think that I cannot speak English," May, a former retail manager, said.

A University of Auckland School of Business survey in 2005 found anti-Asian discrimination to be significant among employers. It found that even without immigration status consideration, having a Chinese or Indian name significantly raised chances of being considered unsuitable.

Massey University researcher Paul Spoonley says New Zealand employers tend to eliminate Asian applicants very early in the process through surname discrimination.

"We have a lot of research and anecdotal evidence that New Zealand employers are reluctant to employ Asians, so changing surnames is a novel way of getting a CV read," he said.

Last year, people born in Asia formed most of the overseas-born people who sought to have their names changed with the Department of Internal Affairs.

Since March last year, 2029 immigrants have registered to change their names, with the top five countries of origin being Samoa (291), China (264), India (152), Iraq (98) and Malaysia (97).

However, Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres said: "It takes away someone's chance to be judged on their merits and it goes against the idea of New Zealand as a fair society." (ANI)

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