This year for Race Relations Day the Human Rights Commission has urged New Zealanders to stand up for one another and to stand up for what we believe in.
A short video highlighting what people can do if they experience or witness a racist attack was launched online.
“We want people to record attacks, to support people who are being attacked and to ensure attacks are reported,” said Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy.
“When we see yet another racist attack on the news we need to ask ourselves: Is this us? Is this the kind of country we want to be? If the answer is No, then we need to do something.”
“What we do today is our insurance policy for the future of our nation.”
“This year we are focused on encouraging New Zealanders to answer these two questions: What do you stand for? What do you want against? The world is at a cross roads when it comes to race relations: the way we treat each other will decide what path New Zealand goes down.”
People from ethnic minorities report an increase in the number of personal racist attacks in recent times, this is in step with events taking place overseas.
“What we do now really matters and that’s why we want people to be prepared to stand up for what they believe in: whether we let our country become a place where abusing someone because of their race is normal or not – that part’s up to us, all of us.”
Every 21st of March the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination marks the 1960 Sharpeville Massacre when 69 black South African citizens – including 10 children – were shot to death by their own Police for protesting against racial apartheid laws.
A series of events in provincial and urban communities to celebrate Race Relations Day are being held throughout the month of March.
“A lot of New Zealanders care deeply about race relations and it shows: this year we have an unprecedented number of -events planned,” said Dame Susan.
“With race relations events planned from Oamaru to Gisborne, Wanganui to Invercargill, what’s great is that we are celebrating race relations in our provinces and smaller towns not just our big cities. While we have our tough times we do care about and respect each other and it shows.”
More than 30 events are being held throughout March with more being added to the list every day.