Race Relations Day 21 March 2016

A global and local touchstone for positive race relations and human rights

New Zealand is one of the most ethnically diverse nations on earth and we are also one of the most peaceful: it's up to everyday New Zealanders to ensure this is a legacy we leave for future generations. Race Relations Day reminds us all of the crucial role positive race relations and human rights play in our communities and lives.

Every 21st 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. In New Zealand, communities across the country host hundreds of events on and around the 21st of March to mark Race Relations Day.

2017 Theme

This year's Race Relations Day theme is "That’s Us: What do we stand for? What do we stand against?" 

New Zealand is one of the most ethnically diverse nations on earth. It is also one of the most peaceful. The change in our society has happened very fast, in less than a generation. Our newest Kiwis come here, as we all did once, as migrants or refugees. 

Our biggest challenge is how we choose to live our lives and what kind of country we let New Zealand become. This Race Relations Day we asking all Kiwis to welcome and get to know the people in your community. What you do makes all the difference. 

Send us your photos and stories about how you are celebrating diversity in your community by sharing them on our Facebook, Instagram or Twitter pages using the hashtags #RaceRelationsDay and #ThatsUs

This year's te reo Maori theme is "Koinā tātou: He aha ka tautokona e tātou? He aha ka whakahēngia?"

Celebrating Race Relations Day at your school

Race Relations Day is a time is a great opportunity to celebrate cultural diversity at your school. The Race Unity Speech Competition 2016 will kick off in March with competitions held in twelve districts across the country, culminating in national finals in Auckland on 16 May. This year’s theme is Stand Up for Race Unity – don’t be a bystander!  Tū mai, tautokona te kotahitanga o ngā iwi – kaua e tū atu!

This year we will be celebrating the incredible young New Zealanders who took part in last year’s Race Unity Speech Competition by promoting their speeches and memorable quotes. Their korero will be promoted across our social media channels and will soon be able to be downloaded from our website.

We've also created a list of resources and suggested activities that will help your students and school celebrate Race Relations Day. View them here.

Celebrating Race Relations Day at your workplace

Race Relations Day is a time to reflect on our journey towards being a culturally diverse and inclusive nation. Here are some ways that you can celebrate Race Relations Day at your workplace.

You can also use Race Relations Day to come together over food! The Commission has launched 'Food Culture', a page that celebrates the cultural foods of all Kiwis this Race Relations Day. It'll include recipes from some well-known foodies – as well as some lesser known but very keen ones.

Race Unity Speech Awards

The Race Unity Speech Awards is a high school speech competition that runs alongside Race Relations Day. Follow the link to find out more.

Race Relations Day Posters 

To view and download our latest Race Relations Day Posters and Social Media resources, as well as those from previous years. Follow the link here

Social Media Campaign

This year we will also be encouraging Kiwis to share their race relations experiences and hopes online via the hashtag #RaceRelationsDay. Follow us on Twitter @NZHumanRights or via the Commission’s Facebook page to get updates from us. 

Food Culture

To help celebrate Race Relations Day we have set up a Facebook page called Food Culture where you can view, share, swap, and request multicultural meal ideas and recipes. Diversity in our kitchens as well as our communities! View it here.

Race Relations Day events

Every year communities across the country host events – from food fairs to cultural festivals -  to celebrate Race Relations Day. Events are often held throughout the year – not always on 21 March. More information can be found via the Commission’s Facebook page and we will be providing a list of events on this page. If you would like to add your event to our calendar of events please email Lily Azanaw: [email protected] with details.

Event Calendar


18-21 February: Auckland Lantern Festival: Auckland Domain, Domain Drive, Auckland, 7.00pm - 10.30pm. 

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27 February: Marlborough Multicultural Festival:  Pollard Park, Blenheim, 11am - 4pm. More information here.


27 February-28 February: Christchurch Lantern Festival: North Hagley Park Events Village, Rolleston Avenue, Christchurch, 5.30 - 10.30pm. More information here.



  • 5 March: Christchurch Holi - Indian Festival of Colours: The Commons, 70 Kilmore St, Christchurch, 11:00am – 3:00pm. More information here

Christchurch Holi - Indian Festival of Colours

  • 4 March: Race Relations Day Celebration, Manawatu: The Square, Palmerston North, 9am. More information here.

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  • 5 March: International Cultures Day, Hastings: Cromwell Park, Tomoana Road, Hastings, 11am - 4pm.


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  • 12 Match: Culture Galore, Christchurch: Ray Blank Park, Maidstone Road, Christchurch, 12 - 4pm. More information here.

culture galore.jpg

  • 12 March: Race Relations Day Celebration, Rotorua: U and I Football Cup. Te Ngae Road, Rotorua, 9am - 5pm. More information here.

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  • 12 March - Mother Language Day Workshop, Hamilton: KG Room, Hamilton Central Library. More info here.  
  • 16-19 March: ASB Polyfest, Auckland: Manakau Sports Bowl, 1 Boundary Road, Auckland. Entry is $5, preschoolers are free. Door sales only. More information here.


  • 19 March: Multicultural Food Festival, Invercargill: Southland Stadium, Surrey Park Sports Centre, Isabella Road, Invercargill, 9am - 5pm. More information here.


  • 19 March: Annual Multicultural Festival, Tauranga: The Historic Village, 17th Avenue, Tauranga, 10am - 4pm. More information here.
  • 19 March: Multicultural Shared Lunch, North Shore: Pemberton Avenue, North Shore 12pm - 2pm. More information here.
  • 19 March: Creators of Peace Information Session, Hamilton: KG Room, Hamilton Central Library. More info here
  • 19 March: Race Relations Day Celebration, Oamaru: The Opera House, Oamaru,  9am - 5pm. More information here.
  • 20 March: Auckland International Cultural Festival: Mount Roskill War Memorial Park, Auckland. 10am - 5pm. More information here. 
  • 20 March: Race Relations Day Potluck, Timaru: Red Cross Hall, 18 Bank Street. 6pm.
  • 21 March: Indigo Trust - Movie Night: The film being screened is "The Imam and the Pastor". The location of the screening is the KG Room, Hamilton Central Library. 
  • 24-27 March: Whanganui River and Marae Hikoi (Journey), Auckland: A 4 day, 3-night trip departing from Auckland. More information here.


  • 2 April: Auckland Indonesian Festival: Raye Freedman Arts Centre, Silver Road, Auckland, 11am - 7pm. More information here.