Wellington, March 17, 2017
Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy has paid tribute to New Zealanders who are behind a series of events in provincial and urban communities to celebrate Race Relations Day throughout the month of March.
The following is her Statement:
A lot of New Zealanders care deeply about race relations and it shows: this year we have an unprecedented number of events planned.
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.
Every year, International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination held on March 21, 2017 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.
What is poignant this month is we also mark the recent passing of Murray Ball, a passionate anti-apartheid activist, brilliant cartoonist and social commentator.
In 1985 Dog wrote an open letter to the NZ Rugby Union explaining why he could not be the mascot if they were touring Apartheid South Africa and in doing so a guy from heartland New Zealand showed all of us how to be a human rights activist and he did it in the most Kiwi way possible.
Thirty-two years later, Dog is a mascot the Human Rights Commission would be proud to adopt.
I encourage Kiwis to head along to race relations events in their region and to find out more at www.thatsus.co.nz