New Zealanders get together to mark Race Relations Day

Dame Susan Devoy

Wellington, March 13, 2018

Kiwis’ positive attitudes to our increasingly diverse communities are shining through as groups throughout the country finalise plans to celebrate Race Relations Day.

More than 35 separate Race Relations celebrations in communities from Northland to Invercargill, Gisborne to Hawkes Bay will be taking place throughout March.

Events range from food festivals to debates, colour runs, cultural performances and speech competitions.

Word gets around

I am proud to see all corners of Aotearoa New Zealand celebrating Race Relations Day.

More and more of us are appreciating the richness that different cultures bring and celebrating the relationships we can have with one another. And it is happening in cities and smaller centres.

The Word is spreading.

Race Relations Day on March 21 marks the ‘1960 Sharpeville Massacre,’ when 69 black South African citizens, including 10 children, were shot to death by police for protesting against apartheid laws. It is commemorated each year in the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

‘Give Nothing to Racism’

The award-winning ‘Give Nothing to Racism’ campaign seems to have resonated.

Messages from New Zealanders of many ethnicities talking about their experiences and their hopes as part of the campaign have been viewed by thousands of people and the ‘Give Nothing to Racism’ video fronted by Taika Waititi has been watched by over 1.7 million people.

Kiwis care. Let us turn this into action. Every one of us can take our own stand against racism by supporting a local event.

We can also help shape future attitudes.

Discrimination at schools

Of interest is a report in January this year from the Children’s Commissioner and the School Trustees Association recounting students’ experience of feeling undervalued or underrated at school because of their culture.

The authors talked to nearly 1700 young people, to incorporate their experience and views in the ‘Statement of National Education and Learning Priorities.’

Building positive race relations and harmony is a long game.

It is up to all of us.

Dame Susan Devoy is Race Relations Commissioner at the New Zealand Human Rights Commission.

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