Filipinos fear Rena backlash

Last updated 11:49 14/10/2011

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New Zealand Filipinos have appealed to Kiwis not to subject them to "racial hatred" as a result of the Rena grounding.

Filipinos living in Tauranga have been abused by local residents, who have given them the finger and told them they were at fault for the Rena disaster, Migrante Aotearoa New Zealand coordinator Dennis Maga said.

"Once you've been identified as a Filipino there is judgment that Filipinos are the culprits and your relatives, and you also should be blamed for this problem," Maga said.

"They shouldn't be judged. They should look at whoever made the mistakes. These Filipinos are New Zealanders - they're also suffering because they love the shore and that area."

There were about 300 Filipino families in Tauranga, Maga said.

"The environmental disaster in Tauranga is a tragedy of the highest order," he said.

"Fanning racial hatred against Filipinos who also care so much for the beauty of New Zealand would be another gross human disaster.

"We do understand the intense feelings of New Zealanders over this disaster.

"We appeal for sobriety so that innocent Filipinos would not be subjected to racial hatred as already experienced by some Filipinos in Tauranga."

He said Filipino people were with the people of Tauranga and lamented the disaster.

"We regret that this happened and hope that those responsible would be made accountable in accordance with New Zealand and international laws. We too are deeply aggrieved over this tragedy and hope for the best possible efforts to save every living thing out there."

- MICHELLE COOKE with MICHAEL FIELD

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