Survey examines where we're at on racial discrimination

Last updated 10:14 03/03/2009

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Asian people are the most discriminated ethnic group in New Zealand, according to a national survey.

A UMR Research public opinion survey for the Human Rights Commission found 74 percent of respondents said Asians experience ‘a great deal’ or ‘some’ discrimination.

Men and children were the groups with the lowest level of perceived discrimination at 27 percent.

The figures are in the discrimination chapter of the Race Relations Report that race relations commissioner Joris de Bres released on February 20.

The full Race Relations Report will be published early next month.

It also records media reports of racially motivated crime in 2008, including a man sentenced to 21 years imprisonment for the racially motivated killing of Korean backpacker Jae Hyeon Kim.

Other stories include:

• A Filipino schoolgirl who was called a "bloody Asian" and had stones thrown at her by three teenage boys in Christchurch

• Two men who were arrested and charged with intimidation after racially abusing a group of Asian people at a New Plymouth playground

• A man who was sentenced to six months home detention and ordered to pay $350 reparation for racial abuse and assault on an Asian teenager in Napier

• A Nelson man who was sentenced to nine months in prison for abusing and threatening an Asian man at a service station and striking another Asian man with his car outside a supermarket.

Racial discrimination and harassment complaints to the Human Rights Commission were down last year, from 414 in 2007 to 407.

Of these complaints, the largest number related to employment, with the provision of goods and services and racial harassment coming in second.

However, The Asia New Zealand Foundation released the results of a longitudinal research project, which, in general, indicate that New Zealanders’ perceptions of people from Asia are positive.

Eighty-five percent of respondents agreed that people from Asia contribute to the country’s economy, with 82 percent agreeing immigrants from Asia bring valuable cultural diversity to this country.

Mr de Bres says continued individual and community action is needed to address racial discrimination and harassment.

He says the only information about the extent of racially motivated crime is media reports because police do not collect data about complaints, prosecutions or convictions for such crimes.

The United Nations committee on the elimination of racial discrimination has called for this data to be collected by the police.

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To download the full discrimination chapter, visit the Human Rights Commission website at www.hrc.co.nz.

The Race Relations Report 2008, including a review of religion, migration and diversity issues, will be published in early March in the lead-up to Race Relations Day on March 21. To order resources, including a Race Relations Day poster, email infoline@hrc.co.nz.

- East And Bays Courier

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