Some Chinese New Zealanders have been fearing for their safety due to the discrimination they have experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic, a new report has found.
The Human Rights Commission initiated the report in 2020 after they received over 100 queries and complaints regarding COVID-19 related discrimination.
The research, which was released on Wednesday, found four in ten respondents had experienced discrimination since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The highest rates of discrimination were reported for Tangata Whenua (55 percent), Chinese (54 percent), Pacific (50 percent), and Asian (49 percent) respondents.
Around 21 percent of respondents said they had experienced discrimination that they perceived as specifically related to COVID-19.
It is important to note, the research was conducted prior to the Auckland August 2020 cluster where it has been reported Pacific communities endured higher levels of discrimination.
Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon said the pandemic has been feeding fear, which manifests itself in racism and discrimination.
"We must not forget that the virus is the problem and not people, especially as we find ourselves in COVID lockdown again," he said.
As a result of the discrimination, some respondents said they had developed concerns about their safety and worried about how their children and other family members might be treated.
Chinese respondents reported much greater concerns about their personal safety compared with other respondents.
In response, some respondents said they took specific actions to try to avoid being discriminated against, including deliberately keeping their distance from others when out in public, choosing to stay home and hardly going out, and reducing their outings and social activities.
"An unfortunate by-product of COVID-19 is that certain ethnic groups are often blamed and subsequently vilified for their perceived 'role' in an outbreak," Foon said.
"No one should not have to change their behaviour to avoid risking discrimination, made to feel they don't belong, worry about their public safety, or experience negative mental wellbeing because of discrimination or racism."
Nearly one in two (46 percent) of those who experienced COVID-related discrimination said it had had a negative impact on their mental wellbeing.
However, 9 percent reported a positive impact, which was possibly due to how others responded or supported them during the incidents.