Human Rights Commission report reveals migrants to NZ are facing racism 'everywhere'

Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon.
Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon. Photo credit: The AM Show

Migrants to New Zealand are experiencing racism 'everywhere' they go, a new report by the Human Rights Commission has found.

Released on Thursday, the report - Drivers of migrant New Zealanders' experiences of racism - revealed there is also an "ongoing impact of historical and contemporary racism toward Māori" in New Zealand. Those who participated in the report said they'd experienced subtle and clear racist behaviour through both emotional and physical abuse.

Migrants say they feel judged due to their culture and experience "identity and loss of compromise".

One migrant said they believe racism has increased in New Zealand lately.

"I understand if our elders aren't aware of it because I think they aren't exposed to the news, social media - but us young ones, we read the news every day, we can ascertain what is racism and what is not.

"They can't comprehend this ideology of intergenerational trauma."

Another respondent said they'd experienced both direct and indirect racism in New Zealand.

"My concern is not this direct racism, my concern is the indirect racism we face in this country.  That racism we see everywhere, in the office, if you are in politics, in jobs, if you're calling the police, they judge you by your accent."

Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon noted the impacts of racism were traumatic and leaves "deep-rooted scars".

"Our migrant communities should not have to change themselves to fit into white society. Migrants must feel safe in expressing their language, culture, and identity." 

The report says negative experiences of racism experienced by migrants includes white privilege, racial supremacy, negative bias and stereotyping.

Overall, racism was prevalent in the lives of those who participated in the report.

"No one should be made to feel they do not belong in Aotearoa, worry about their public safety, or experience negative mental wellbeing because of discrimination or racism," Foon said.

He believes the research will help inform a national action plan against racism.

"We must support our migrant communities to identify their own solutions to racism," Foon said. "This will empower their voices, validate their lived experiences and help them take ownership and action in response to racism.

"We all have a responsibility to foster harmonious and inclusive communities that preserve dignity and respect for all people across Aotearoa."

Earlier this week, a survey revealed 93 percent of Māori were impacted by racism on a daily basis.