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Migrants in New Zealand experience fear, loss of identity due to racism

Graphic: New Zealand’s Race Relations Commissioner, Meng Foon

New report documents the impacts of racism on the lives of migrants in New Zealand.

Migrants in New Zealand have for the first time extensively shared their lived experiences of racism, in a new report published by the New Zealand Human Rights Commission.

In the report Drivers of migrant New Zealanders' experiences of racism, published this month, migrants expressed their continued institutional, personally mediated and internalised experiences of racism.

Many respondents said that racism deeply wounded their sense of self-belief resulting in fear, disengagement from society and loss of culture and identity. Many expressed how racism led to exclusion, colonised thinking and even judgement of their own culture.

As a result, many migrants said they had to change how they looked, dressed, spoke, or acted to fit into Eurocentric expectations in New Zealand.

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.

Meng Foon, New Zealand’s Race Relations Commission

The impacts of racism felt by migrant communities are extensive and span all aspects of wellbeing, including health, housing, employment, education, governance, and the justice system.

"The impacts of racism are traumatic, intergenerational, broad and affect all aspects of wellbeing. Racism leaves deep-rooted scars that often don't heal," Mr Foon said.

Migrants identified numerous opportunities to influence change and strengthen responses to racism including honouring Te Tiriti o Waitangi (the Treaty of Waitangi), having diverse representation in all levels of leadership, teaching a balanced New Zealand history, education, and strengthening identity.

The published research findings will help inform a national action plan against racism to ensure it is evidence-based in its development, implementation and review.

Date: 25 March 2021

Source: New Zealand Human Rights Commission

Image credits

  1. New Zealand’s Race Relations Commissioner, Meng Foon - New Zealand Human Rights Commission