Christchurch terror attack: New Zealand Race Relations Commissioner says government must act on hate crimes

New Zealand's acting Race Relations Commissioner has called for policy changes following the Christchurch terror attacks.

Professor Paul Hunt told the AM Show that while New Zealand has a great record as far as race relations are concerned, we can always improve.

"New Zealand has one the best human rights records in the world, however the competition isn't great.

"We must recognise there are problems. In some quarters of our society there is Islamophobia, this is quite clear. In some segments of our society there is racism, this is quite clear. And the New Zealand Human Rights Commission has been saying this for some time and organising campaigns to try and counter it."

Hunt suggested that improved government policy can also play a role in combating these ideologies.

"We do need to revisit the hate laws in this country, we need to look at them again.

"We do have to collect data around hate crimes, it's not adequately collected at the moment.

"We do need to have a survey of the xenophobic extremism that is found in some...quarters of our society and we do need a national plan of action across address the issues of xenophobic extremism and racism."

Hunt's call for action regarding hate speech follows comments on Monday from an expert on far-right movements in New Zealand.

Dr Paul Spoonley told the AM Show that hurtful comments online were a frequent occurance.

"Last year I chaired a... Government group that was looking at hate speech on the internet in New Zealand. I must say I was appalled, it was really, really bad.

"What I hadn't appreciated was the level of Islamophobic comment that comes from our community."

"If you talk to the Muslim communities in this country and if you look at what's being done, they are constantly experiencing some sort of attack."

However, Hunt assured the country that unity and dignity are the intentions held by the vast majority of people directly affected by the attacks right now.

"We can recover. This won't be forgotten, but I'm sure that we can recover from this calamity.

"I'm struck... by the sense of unity and the sense of dignity that is very paramount in the Muslim community and in the wider Christchurch community."


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