Kiwis’ positive attitudes to our increasingly diverse communities are shining through as groups throughout the country finalise plans to celebrate Race Relations Day.
More than 35 separate Race Relations celebrations in communities from Northland to Invercargill, Gisborne to Hawkes Bay will be taking place throughout March. Events range from food festivals to debates, colour runs, cultural performances and speech competitions.
Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy says she’s proud to see all corners of Aotearoa New Zealand celebrating Race Relations Day.
“More and more of us are appreciating the richness that different cultures bring, and celebrating the relationships we can have with one another. And it’s happening in both cities and smaller centres. Word is spreading.”
Race Relations Day on 21 March marks the 1960 Sharpeville Massacre when 69 black South African citizens, including 10 children, were shot to death by police for protesting against apartheid laws. It is commemorated each year in the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
Dame Susan said the award-winning Give Nothing to Racism campaign seems to have resonated.
“Messages from New Zealanders of many ethnicities talking about their experiences and their hopes as part of the campaign have been viewed by thousands of people and the Give Nothing To Racism video fronted by Taika Waititi has been watched by over 1.7 million.
“Kiwis care. Let’s turn this into action. Every one of us can take our own stand against racism by supporting a local event.”
“We can also help shape future attitudes,” she said, noting a report in January this year from the Children’s Commissioner and the School Trustees Association recounting students’ experience of feeling undervalued or underrated at school because of their culture.
The authors talked to nearly 1700 young people, to incorporate their experience and views in the Statement of National Education and Learning Priorities.
“Building positive race relations and harmony is a long game. It’s up to all of us,” Dame Susan said.