It isn't easy being a Kiwi - Korean MP
New Zealand's first Korean MP, Melissa Lee, told Parliament today it wasn't easy being a proud Kiwi.
Ms Lee explained in her maiden speech that her parents left Korea more than 30 years ago to make a new life for herself and her brother.
"I may not have been born here, I may not even have been brought up here, but I've made a commitment to become a New Zealander and I'm a proud carrier of a New Zealand passport," she said.
"This is a privilege and I'm proud to call myself a Kiwi, but not all New Zealanders would accept that I'm a Kiwi.
"Because of my skin colour, I will forever be a foreigner."
Ms Lee, a National Party list MP, said those attitudes had to change.
"We are too small a nation to be divisive. We must work together to decide who we are as a nation."
The former journalist and businesswoman said Korean settlement in New Zealand was relatively new and she was often confronted by misconceptions about Korea, formed out of ignorance and by television programmes like M*A*S*H*.
"When people have preconceived ideas of what you're like, settlement in New Zealand can be paved with tears," Ms Lee said.
And in an obvious reference to New Zealand First, she said she was pleased to be making her maiden speech at a time when New Zealand had chosen to reject "a particular party" whose policies gained support from people who disliked her simply because of her ethnic heritage.
"Call it irony or just a fortunate turn of events, with the exit of that party comes the first minister of Asian origin in the cabinet," she said.
She was referring to Pansy Wong, a minister in the new cabinet.
Ms Lee used her maiden speech to cover the plight of abused children and the safety of individuals.
She said she had been the victim of home invasion when she was confronted by two men in balaclavas, one with a gun and the other with a hammer.
"I don't feel safe in my own home, let alone in the street," she said.