An ugly incident of racial abuse on a Wellington bus last week has led to an apology from the perpetrator and expressions of forgiveness from some Kiwi Muslim leaders.
“It’s encouraging to see this turnaround in such a short time, I’m very pleased to see the man apologise on Te Karere to the people he abused as well as the brave woman who stood up for them,” said Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy.
“New Zealanders live in one of the most peaceful nations on earth and we all need to make sure it stays that way.”
Dame Susan says speaking with Jewish Kiwis this year at the 70th Holocaust Memorial service in Makara was a solemn reminder.
“Hate starts small. It starts when someone on the street swears at you because you’re a Jew, it starts when a stranger spits at you because you are different and it grows when people ignore it and remain silent,” said Dame Susan.
“My plea is for Kiwis to keep standing up for each other: this is what human rights are all about.”
Quoting Gisborne Girls High student and Race Unity speech competitor, Vipasha Metha, Dame Susan said:
“I’d like to quote a young Kiwi who has summed race relations up perfectly: Vipasha says, ‘our differences are like a zip, they can either bring us together or tear us apart: it’s up to us. It’s up to all of us’.”