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Race relations report urges action

Human Rights Commission

27 February 2006

Race relations report urges action to bridge inequalities

More work needs to be done to reduce the serious social and economic inequalities facing Màori and Pacific New Zealanders, according to an annual review of race relations released today by the Human Rights Commission.

Race Relations in 2005 provides an overview of the major issues and developments of last year, covering areas such as cultural diversity, the Treaty of Waitangi, discrimination, and economic and social rights.

"Statistics show that despite progress in some areas the gap between Màori and Pacific New Zealanders and the rest of the community remains unacceptably wide in areas such as health, education and economic standard of living," said Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres.

"Last year more than a third of all children born in New Zealand were of Màori and Pacific descent. Yet these children currently face the prospect of an avoidable mortality rate over their lifetime that is three times as high for Màori and twice as high for Pacific people as it is for other New Zealanders.

"If we're serious about building a fair New Zealand for everyone then there is a greater need than ever to address these disparities."

Mr de Bres acknowledged the constructive policies the government had developed to assist Màori and Pacific people, as well as programmes to assist new migrants and refugees settle in New Zealand.

"Strategies to address entrenched inequality will always be long-term and multi-faceted, however, there can be no let up in targeted government and community action," he said.

Race Relations in 2005 includes a review of race-related complaints made to the Human Rights Commission. Last year the Commission received 1,796 complaints, with 597 referring to race, colour or ethnic or national origins.

A total of 455 complaints were resolved at, or close to, initial contact with the complainant, through the provision of information or an informal intervention. The remaining 142 complaints were resolved through the Commission's dispute resolution service, which often involves mediation between the parties involved.

Of these 142 complaints, the largest numbers related to discrimination or racial harassment in the workplace (20%); discrimination in the provision of goods and services (22%); and complaints about public sector agencies or discriminatory legislation (23%).

There were very few race-related complaints made against media outlets in 2005. Only three complaints regarding racial denigration were lodged with the Broadcasting Standards Authority, and there were no complaints lodged with the Press Council.

Race Relations in 2005 also provides an overview of many positive developments that occurred in race relations last year, including:

* a number of Treaty claims and settlements were advanced, and there was an extensive programme of public education about the Treaty

* initiatives in language policy, interfaith cooperation and diversity in the media

* programmes to support Màori and Pacific potential and achievement, including developing leadership skills among young people

* a large number of research, books and web resources published on diversity issues.

Race Relations in 2005 is a resource that will help provide informed discussion around race relations and cultural diversity in New Zealand as part of the many activities being undertaken in the lead up to Race Relations Day on 21 March.

The theme for Race Relations Day 2006 is "Aotearoa, New Zealand, Turangawaewae, Our Home" focusing on what it means to belong here together.

Race Relations in 2005 is available on the Commission's website at www.hrc.co.nz .

ENDS

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