not a good look, New Zealand

February 15th, 2012

Busy morning, but I finally got around to seeing what news of New Zealand Baidu wished to alert me to this morning, and what do I see? A China Youth Online (not exactly a minor news source) article titled:

亚裔已成为新西兰四大族群之一 最受歧视

Asians have become one of New Zealand’s four biggest ethnic groups, most discriminated against

Oh dear. This is not a good look. Now, CYOL’s article is attributed to China News, which traces this story back via what seems to be its NZ bureau to a report from TVNZ. It seems to be reporting on the same survey I saw reported on Weibo a few days ago (see this post, scroll down a bit) showing that 75% of undescribed respondents believe that Asians face the most discrimination in New Zealand.

However, apart from the obvious difference between a newspaper article and a Weibo post being the level of detail allowed due to the lack of a character limit, CYOL also has Race Relations Conciliator Joris de Bres explaining that Asians are now one of the four largest population groups (四大人口群之一 – a terminology I find preferable to such nonsensities as ‘race’ or any term involving ‘ethnic’ given how broad a brush ‘Asian’ is, even when in a NZ context with ‘Asian’ most likely meaning ‘East Asian’) and the Asian population is growing rapidly. However, the very same paragraph has the Human Rights Commission’s survey showing Asians have faced many serious attacks in recent years.

And here’s where it gets uncomfortable. The next paragraph lists some of these attacks, namely:

  • In Nelson two Thai women were physically and verbally abused (肢体和语言上的攻击 – any better translations most welcome)
  • In Christchurch a husband and wife sic’ed their dog on (让他们的狗欺负 – again, better translations, please) a Phillipine man and a Japanese student.
  • In New Plymouth a man smashed up his Indian neighbour’s car with a machete (so CYOL is not limiting this to East Asians, even though ‘Asian’ in NZ usage usually refers primarily to East Asians).
  • In Invercargill a Chinese student was verbally abused (受到侮辱) at a petrol station

Alright, given the paucity of details in this article, we could wiggle in some room in 3 out of 4 of those bullet points for motivating factors other than racism. But I suspect a little googling would quickly remove most, if not all that wiggle room.

The final paragraph returns to De Bres, pointing out the lack of Asian members of Regional Health Boards (地区健康委员会), the lack of Asian teachers in schools, and the lack of Asians working in other government departments. But he also points out that the organisation employing the most Asians is in fact the Police. Personally, I think the Police is a pretty good place to start, especially if we have visibly Asian uniformed cops out on the beat.

But clearly there is a hell of a lot of yet work to do and a lot of bad attitudes that need to be dumped.

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