March against racism backed by communities
Replaced Statement: March against racism backed by communities
Against a backdrop of concerns about racist attacks and harassment, ethnic community leaders and prominent New Zealanders from diverse cultural backgrounds are endorsing a planned anti-racism march in Wellington.
The ‘March for a Multicultural Aotearoa’ is a response to attacks in the Wellington area against Somalis, Jewish cemeteries, Maori, ethnic community centres and activist centres. These attacks have all been linked to the National Front, a white supremacist group which plans to march to Parliament against Asian immigration this Labour weekend. The March for a Multicultural Aotearoa will march to Parliament on the same day, meeting first at the courtyard of Te Papa at midday, Saturday 23 October.
The National Front is trying to gain acceptance as a political party, but is described as “a gang” by police in the Wellington region.
President of the New Zealand Federation of Ethnic Councils (NZFEC) Pancha Narayanan urged ethnic communities to “get behind the anti-racism march 100%. The Christchurch anti-racism marchers were mostly Pakeha and Maori – we can’t rely on their goodwill forever.”
The Christchurch anti-racism march in May attracted over 2000 people and was sparked by an attack on an Asian student by a skinhead. Hock Lee, one of the key organisers of the Christchurch demonstration has expressed his full support of the Wellington demonstration, which he hopes will be “a real celebration of multiculturalism”. Mr Lee, who is Malaysian Chinese, says that the Christchurch anti-racism march has made a real difference in Christchurch to the way people behave towards migrants, and that he now personally experiences less racism.
Other Chinese people who have declared their support of the March for a Multicultural Aotearoa include journalist and playwright Lynda Chanwai-Earle, Shortland Street actor Li-Ming Hu, and MP Pansy Wong. Pacific supporters include the Samoan-Chinese Reverend and community worker Mua Strickson-Pua, his son Feleti Strickson-Pua of popular music group Nesian Mystik, and Fijian-born documentary-maker Lala Rolls, director of the acclaimed ‘Children of the Migration’. Maori supporters include award-winning playwright Hone Kouka and veteran rap artist Dean Hapeta. Pakeha supporters include such lauded literary names as Vincent O’Sullivan and Elizabeth Knox. Multicultural Aotearoa, the group organising the march, has Asian, Maori, Pakeha, Jewish, Arab and Pacific members.
“In the past we've thought the best way of dealing with the National Front is to do nothing, ignore them, and not draw attention to them. But this has left them to present their discredited ideas unchallenged in the media. And doing nothing has not stopped the racist attacks and disgusting harassment. It’s time to take a stand for our families, friends, neighbours, communities, colleagues, classmates, and for ourselves” said Tze Ming Mok, Multicultural Aotearoa spokesperson and first-generation Chinese New Zealander.
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