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Race Relations Day dialogue and celebration

Media Release 4 March 2004

Race Relations Day an opportunity dialogue and celebration

The Human Rights Commission is promoting Race Relations Day on 21 March as an opportunity for dialogue on race relations and to celebrate our cultural diversity.

The United Nations asks all member states to observe March 21 as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The day was first observed in New Zealand 35 years ago, and has variously been observed since as Sharpeville Day, Race Unity Day and (since last year) as Race Relations Day.

Many activities are planned throughout the country in the week leading up to Race Relations Day as well as on the day itself, including school projects and activities, workshops, media programmes, and workplace activities.

Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres has asked churches, local councils, employers and community groups to consider ways in which they can use this national and international occasion to promote dialogue and reflection, and to promote harmonious race relations in communities.

"We need to focus on solutions, not arguments. The simple fact is, all our diverse peoples have to live together in this country, and we need to work out a way of ensuring that we all have an equal sense of belonging and that our various cultures are recognised, respected and valued."

The theme for Race Relations Day 2004 is "take a walk in someone else's shoes - hikoitia ngà tapuwae o te hunga kº", emphasising the need to see race relations issues from the perspective of other ethnicities. The Commission has produced a poster and sticker with a wide variety of footwear to illustrate the theme.

Race Relations Day falls on a Sunday, but there will be events and activities throughout the preceding week. Multi-ethnic festivals organized by the Federation of Ethnic Councils in conjunction with the Commission and local government will mainly take place on Saturdays 13, 20 and 27 March.


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