Racism a major problem in New Zealand

Dame Susan Devoy

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Racial abuse is not just a problem in rugby or sport, it is a New Zealand problem.

A third of our complaints are to do with racial discrimination but we know many more people never complain formally about so-called ‘casual’ racial abuse.

NZ Rugby has a high profile campaign that puts the spotlight on abusive behaviour and this will encourage people to speak out which is a good thing: we cannot address a problem if we do not acknowledge it is there.

A series of incidents in the of incidents in the South Island has led to players, administrators and supporters speaking out against racial abuse from players and spectators at rugby games.

We should all be grateful for New Zealanders who call out those of us who think racial abuse is OK: whether it is on a sports field, or a bus or on the street. Ugly racial abuse is not part of our Kiwi culture and good on anyone or any organisation that makes a stand against it.

We live in one of the most ethnically diverse nations on the planet as well as one of the most peaceful. If we are to keep it that way we need to be responsible for how we treat one another, we do not need to look too far to see what happens if racial intolerance goes unchallenged.

Dame Susan Devoy is Race Relations Commissioner based in Auckland.

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