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 2017 will kick off in March with competitions held in twelve districts across the country, culminating in national finals. 

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.


Southland Multicultural Council
18th March at Southland Stadium, Invercargill
Hamilton Multicultural Council
18th of March at Hamilton Gardens Pavilion
Nelson Multicultural Council
19th of March at Victory Square
Event: Cultural Performances, food and entertainment
Tairawhiti Multicultural Council
19th of March at Marina Carpark, Gisborne
Wellington Multicultural Council
19th of March at Wakefield Park, Island bay
Upper Hutt Multicultural Council
21st of March at Upper Hutt Library
Ethnic Media forum
21st of March at HRC Auckland
Event: Ethnic media launch for Race Relations day
23rd of March at Porirua City Council
Event: That’s Us Race Relations Day
Waitaki Multicultural Council
25th of March at Pembroke School Hall, Raglan Street, Oamaru
Event: Cultural Displays, Cultural performances, music and shared meal
Kapiti Te Newhanga Kapiti Community Centre
25th of March at Te Newhanga Kapiti Community Centre
Aoraki Multicultural Council
25th of March at Caroline Bay Hall, 2 King George Place, Timaru
New Zealand Asia Association
25th of March at Te Tuhi Centre, 13 Reeves Road, Pakuranga, Auckland
Multicultural Council of Rangitikei/Whanganui
25th of March at Multicultural House, 137 Anzac Parade, Wanganui East
Auckland City Multi Ethnic Council
1st of April at 357 Waiuku Rd, Pukekohe, 2678
Event: Multicultural Festival 
Auckland Multicultural Council
2nd of April at Mt Roskill War Memorial Park
Multicultural Council of Wellington
23rd April at Shed 6, Queens Wharf, Wellington
Auckland Multicultural Council
9th of April at 16 Stancombe Road, Botany
Event: Multicultural Day celebrations
Canterbury Fo Guang Shan
22nd of April at Multicultural day celebration
Event: Multicultural and Interfaith event

Rotorua Multicultural Council
Date and venue to be confirmed
Event: Multicultural event

There are also Regional Youth Engagement Workshops being held across the country.