The Human Rights Commission says more New Zealanders should be having conversations about diversity and race relations.
“Today is Race Relations Day but the time to talk about how we get on with each other shouldn’t be limited to one day a year: it’s always a good time to have courageous conversations,” said Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy.
“As well as challenging other people, we need to challenge ourselves and our own prejudices and assumptions.”
Race Relations Day marks the anniversary of the 1960 Sharpeville Massacre when 69 young people were murdered by South African police while protesting against the nation’s racist apartheid laws.
With more than one million New Zealanders born overseas the country’s huge demographic change has taken place in less than a generation. With more ethnicities than UN member states New Zealand is a Superdiverse country, one of the most ethnically diverse on the planet.
“We welcome opportunities for Kiwis to debate our national identity but debate needs to be transparent and open: let’s hear all sides to the story because there is never only one,” said Dame Susan.
“Our national identity won’t be decided by a flag or an online quiz. Our national identity will be decided by New Zealanders, it’s about how we treat one another, how we live our lives and those things we treasure above all else.”
“We live in one of the most ethnically diverse countries on earth as well as one of the most peaceful: whether we leave this behind for our children and grandchildren: that part’s up to us.”
Events are taking place across the country to mark Race Relations Day throughout March.