Most racism felt in ‘little things, subtle things’ says one who feels it
The survey, conducted for the annual review of discrimination, shows 76 per cent of the 750 respondents consider Asians to be the most discriminated against ethnic group.
Recent immigrants are the second most discriminated group (70 per cent), followed by Pacific people (62 per cent), and Maori (58 per cent).
Wellington mayoral candidate Jack Yan, who emigrated to Wellington from China as a child, says he is not surprised by the survey results.
“If you had to pick a group, it would be us,” he says.
He has experienced various forms of racial discrimination throughout his life: “Little things, subtle things, like not getting served at shops.”
Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres says it is time for New Zealanders to actively include Asians and other ethnic minorities in a bid to eradicate discrimination.
“That means ensuring people from Asian communities feel welcome in the wider social and community networks New Zealanders enjoy,” he says.
The Asian population is one of the four major population groups in New Zealand, after European and Maori, and ahead of Pacific people in numbers.
Asian people are also one of the fastest growing ethnic groups in New Zealand, with the 2006 Census projecting the Asian population would almost double to 790,000 by 2026.
Studies conducted with Asian people directly revealed almost a quarter of respondents had experienced discrimination in the past 12 months, a higher proportion than all other ethnic groups.
Despite that, the number of cases alleging racial discrimination brought to the Human Rights Commission is at its lowest in five years.
Complaints for perceived discrimination within government policy, legislation and practice in the public sector accounted for 18 per cent of all race related approaches to the HRC, down from 28 per cent in 2007.
The majority of discrimination complaints were in the employment sector, with more than 40 per cent of employment based complaints relating to poor treatment, harassment or race-related bullying.
Yan says one option for decreasing racial discrimination in the employment sector is to have more colour-blind policies.
“Why don’t people just go with their initials,” he says. “Their credentials, not their names. That could be a start. Find out if they’re good for the job, then bring them into the office.”
Yan says Asians are not looking for special treatment.
“We’d just like to be treated fairly,” he says. “We have contributed to New Zealand, albeit quietly.”