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It’s time to have an honest conversation about racism in New Zealand

The New Zealand Maori Council has said its time to have an honest conversation about racism in New Zealand and what we need to do to address it.

The Maori Council has said its time for New Zealand to have an honest conversation about racism, both conscious and unconscious, in Aotearoa. Council Executive Director, Matthew Tukaki, has said that the recent cases of a Maori student being treated unfairly in securing accommodation, the case of the Department of Corrections highlighting the presence of Maori Nationalist Groups in prisons (then apologizing and saying there was no evidence to support the claim) were the more extreme examples of racial profiling being alive and well in today’s New Zealand:

“Many New Zealanders might be shocked to know these are not isolated examples – these are very much daily occurrences and have been going on for some time. One that constantly gets rolled out are the number of Maori who live off the taxpayer and yet no one talks about the number of Maori who are taxpayers. For example, we estimate that Maori contribute billions in personal tax, hundreds of millions in corporate and business tax and tens of millions in rates to local Councils – and yet somehow we have people out there who keep on banging on about Maori being welfare bludgers.” Tukaki said

“Then there is the example of public servants out of control at MBIE hiring private investigators to spy on Maori organisations, Iwi and Hapu and you have to ask yourself what the motivation is. A little while ago in Hamilton we had the case of a former South African national trying to rebirth what is widely accepted as a racially charged event in his former home country and then there are the emerging cases of elected Local Government Councilors railing against Te Reo.” Tukaki said

“The example that I use is the case of a 16 year old Maori boy being admitted for a drug overdose in an A&E – viewed as just another Maori who’s taken drugs no one addresses the root cause of the problem where it’s a 16 year old boy struggling with his sexual identity and he’s just attempted to take his life. The profiling of Maori is alive and well and each and everyone of these examples” Tukaki said

“Two years ago there was the case of the group of young men taking photos of themselves in front of a Swastika flag with guns – that’s not in some foreign country – that’s right here in New Zealand.” Tukaki said

“The perennial question is what to do about it. Of course we need to encourage our fellow New Zealanders to call out racist behavior wherever it emerges including on social media. If someone posts something that is racially charged and motivated report it and keep reporting it to the social media platform. If you hear something snide in the workplace don’t laugh about it – call it out. If you hear students in the playground stop them; caution them, educate them. If you’re being discriminated against when applying for housing or finance or a job – report them to the Human Rights Commission.” Tukaki said

“I know it’s a hard thing for many to accept but racism is something that is alive and well in New Zealand and the first step to addressing it as knowing we have a problem. I’d also remind everyone that Maori are the first nations people of Aotearoa. We have been here for a long time, a lot longer than everyone else. We are taxpayers, we are small business owners. We are Doctors, teachers, nurses, accountants, landowners, property owners and leaders in society – we are not the problem.” Tukaki said

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