COVID-19 fueling discrimination against Tangata Whenua and Chinese communities

18 February 2021

New research by the New Zealand Human Rights Commission (NZHRC) revealed that Tangata Whenua and Chinese communities report the highest rates of discrimination since the start of COVID-19. Tangata Whenua is a Māori term to describe Indigenous people in New Zealand.

Four in ten respondents (39%) report having experienced discrimination since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, with higher rates for Tangata Whenua (55 percent), Chinese (54 percent), Pacific (50 percent), and Asian (49 percent) respondents.

The NZHRC Race Relations Commissioner, Meng Foon, said:

“The pandemic feeds fear, which in turn is manifesting 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”

The most common forms of discrimination reported by respondents were receiving online negative comments or abuse, being stared at in public, being excessively avoided (beyond the usual social distancing), and receiving negative comments or abuse in person. About half of Chinese, Asian, and Māori respondents said the discrimination they experienced had a negative impact on their mental wellbeing and their sense of belonging in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Respondents reported a range of behaviours that they have taken since the start of COVID-19 due to concerns about discrimination, including choosing to stay home.

Foon said the findings highlight the importance of data collection and reporting by the Police of hate incidents that are potentially motivated by racism. It will allow systematically recorded race-based harassment and violence as well as to help design prevention strategies.

The Commission will continue to monitor COVID-specific racism as part of its ongoing work towards eliminating racism and promoting harmonious communities.

Source: New Zealand Human Rights Commission

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