Two Wongs critical of Winston

SIMON DAY
Last updated 06:53 12/08/2014
Winston Peters
GRANT MATTHEW/ Fairfax NZ
NZ FIRST LEADER: Winston Peters.

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Two Wongs have criticised comments by NZ First leader Winston Peters as out of touch and not funny.

Peters made a joke relating to Chinese people during his campaign launch speech in West Auckland on Sunday.

Criticising both Labour and National governments that he said had sold large amounts of land to foreigners, he said the sales did not make the actions of either acceptable.

"As they say in Beijing, two wongs don't make a white," he told the audience.

Two Chinese New Zealanders believed Peters' speech was out of touch and out of place in New Zealand.

Henry Wong's family migrated to New Zealand from Hong Kong in 1979.

He had faced racism and discrimination for his heritage, but the 29-year-old believed Peters' comments are not reflective of New Zealand society or their impressions of Chinese people.

"I think Winston was trying to be funny and light-hearted but missed the mark. I didn't find his comments racist or funny. I just laughed at him.

"I don't think, especially in a democratic country like New Zealand, one person's comments, whoever they are, can marginalise a whole group of society," Wong said.

Melissa Wong's ancestors settled in New Zealand in the 1860s to mine gold in Otago.

She thought the speech was racist and not funny, but given Peters' history the comments were impotent.

"It's a jibe by Winston Peters, he's famous for making these sorts of statements. Personally I'm not offended by this statement," she said.

In spite of Peters' speech she believed things had improved drastically since the gold rush and New Zealand recognised the important contribution of Chinese people to the country.

She had faced discrimination for her race and was pleased to see people come out against the comments.

"Life was far more difficult for my forefathers than it is for me today. People are more culturally aware and worldly these days. It was common 20 years ago, but is rare now Life is much better now," she said.

Henry Wong put racism down to ignorance and believed New Zealand was one of the most progressive multicultural countries in the world.

"Having lived in Australia and further abroad the racism in New Zealand is at a very low level.

"New Zealand is a multicultral society which is well educated about all cultures and taught to listen to take into account everyone's views. I am very happy I was bought up in that environment," he said.

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