March Against Racism Forces Backdown
Wed, 6 Oct 2004
March Against Racism Forces National Front Backdown
Amid mounting public support for a Wellington march against racism, the National Front have abruptly dropped the anti-Asian agenda for their rally at Parliament on Labour weekend and have not revealed their new focus. March for a Multicultural Aotearoa organisers are claiming this as an early victory against racism.
"This is a backdown by the National Front and a victory for civil society. Public support for the March for a Multicultural Aotearoa has shown that openly racist agendas will not be tolerated by ordinary New Zealanders. Our march has scored an victory before it has even happened - but the March for a Multicultural Aotearoa is going ahead because our real work is to change racist attitudes that are left unspoken, and to stop the ongoing racist attacks, harassment and discrimination against all ethnic minorities."
Only three weeks ago NF President Kyle Chapman repeatedly described Christchurch Asian business owners and foodcourt workers as "foreign invaders" in his mayoral campaign publicity. Multicultural Aotearoa spokesperson Tze Ming Mok has herself been called "a peasant" and told "go back to your third world country" by a member of the National Front. National media sources reported an unprovoked assault on a Japanese visitor last week. Some community leaders believe that authorities are not acting effectively enough against hate-crimes.
Prominent people from diverse ethnic backgrounds have declared their support for the anti-racism march. Chinese supporters include journalist and playwright Lynda Chanwai-Earle, who said: "Laziness and indifference are our worst enemies. As Asian New Zealanders it is our job to stand up and support peaceful protest against racism. Anything less and we're encouraging intolerance and ignorance to breed."
Other Chinese supporters include Christchurch anti-racism march organiser Hock Lee, 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, Elizabeth Knox, and Steve Braunias.
Organisations which have endorsed the March include the New Zealand Federation of Ethnic Councils, the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions, the New Zealand Association of Staff in Tertiary Education, Te Mana Akonga (the national Maori student association) and Victoria University of Wellington Students' Association.
Multicultural Aotearoa, the group organising the march, has members who are Asian, Pakeha, Maori, Jewish, Arab, Italian and Pacific.