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Seriously High Level Of Racial Harassment In NZ



"The experiences of two businesses in Ellerslie concerning racist taunts by high school pupils is just the tip of the iceberg," says Dr Prasad, the Race Relations Conciliator.

After reading of reports from Michael Kuoy and Tom Kesha concerning the behaviours of secondary school pupils in Ellerslie, Dr Prasad visited them and the Principal of Penrose High School today.

"What Mr Kuoy and Mr Kesha are reporting are the almost daily experiences of harassment of many people, only some of which are reported to the Race Relations Office," said Dr Prasad.

Mr Kesha and Mr Kuoy told Dr Prasad that for almost ten years and two years respectively, they have put up with racist taunts, racist swearing and other forms of harassment by young people. Mr Kesha has previously stopped some pupils from coming into his shop and now Mr Kuoy has been driven to taking the same action.

The Principal of Penrose High School, a large multicultural school with a good reputation for creating a positive learning environment for its students, is taking the matter very seriously and has already developed a plan to address the issues raised by the incidents reported by the two businessmen. Dr Prasad is to address the school assembly on Monday.

"New Zealanders should be aware that in our increasingly diverse cultural environment, more and more incidents of racial harassment are being reported and the cumulative effects of those who fall victim to such offensive behaviour is quite serious. Victims of racial harassment report feelings of anger, frustration, resentment and despair. This can lead to a loss of confidence and reduced level of commitment to New Zealand," said Dr Prasad.

"In our experience, those who express such racism and their victims come from every ethnic community imaginable. Thus racism is not limited to members of the numerically larger cultural groups".

"Society ought to be concerned that we have such a pervasive level of racial harassment and we ought to contemplate how it has become so widespread," warns Dr Prasad.

"Our children must learn these behaviours in either their homes, communities and schools or from television and other media. It will take a greater level of family, community and corporate leadership to stamp out the vile, crass and absolutely objectionable expressions of this form of racism," said Dr Prasad.

"Only when we as a society, as parents and as responsible citizens express zero tolerance for such behaviour, will we move towards a society that respects diversity and where we ourselves will be treated fairly," said Dr Prasad.

Dr Prasad feels that while a significant number of citizens, employers and those who provide goods and services express such insensitivity towards their clients and customers, we are all at risk of falling victim to racial harassment.

"This could be avoided if we made the effort to learn about our culture and those of others," he said.

The Race Relations Office plans to stress public education in its strategic direction as a way of addressing the growing level of harassment present in our homes, communities, workplaces and general environment.


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