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Kiwis Say NZ is a Racist Country on TV3's the Vote


Wednesday 24 April, 2013


New Zealanders voted Yes, New Zealand is a racist country in the groundbreaking second episode of national debate programme The Vote, which screened tonight on TV3.

Guyon Espiner and the Affirmative team were declared the winners of the debate at the end of the hour-long show with the votes tallied at 76% YES, 24% NO.

Viewers voted from around the country and overseas. During the broadcast #thevotenz trended at #1 in New Zealand on Twitter.

Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy joined Duncan and Guyon LIVE in the TV3 studio directly after the debate. She said “New Zealanders should probably feel ashamed that they perceive themselves as a racist country … It is staggering. I think it just highlights the issues we’re facing.” She also commented: “I think this shows that New Zealanders really care about race relations.”

Viewer votes:

76% YES
24% NO
66% YES
34% NO
75% YES
25% NO
76% YES
24% NO
76% YES
24% NO

The theatre audience voted before and after the debate. The results are:

Theatre audience vote – prior to debate
Theatre audience vote – end of debate
52% YES
41% NO
40% YES
57% NO

A snap studio poll during the debate asked: Are we more opposed to Chinese investment than other investment? The theatre audience voted Yes 82% No 13% Undecided 5%.

Tonight’s episode of The Vote saw a coin toss determine that Guyon would lead the Affirmative team arguing that ‘New Zealand is a racist country’.

Guyon was joined by John Tamihere, broadcaster, activist and CEO of the Waipareira Trust, and Associate Professor of Pacific Island Studies, Damon Selesa on the Affirmative team.

On the Negative team, Duncan had lawyer academic Mai Chen and politician Phil Goff to make the case against the moot. Referee Linda Clark kept order in a ground-breaking debate that was informed, informative, passionate and personal for all the debaters.

The arguments for:

Guyon Espiner’s team argued that New Zealanders have a romantic notion that we have ‘perfect’ race relations, but the realities and statistics paint a different picture. They said New Zealand is structurally racist with large discrepancies when it comes to indicators like life expectancy, unemployment, and treatment by the justice system. They pointed to a growing racial segregation in our communities with Pakeha living in separate suburbs to other ethnic groups.

• “What you have to say to yourself is why should a poor brown kid be treated differently by the criminal justice system?” - John Tamihere
• “It’s a national catastrophe in that there are 15 per cent Maori in society and we make up over 50 per cent of the prison population, this cannot give us any comfort as a country.” - John Tamihere
• “We’re already very far down this road of very enhanced residential segregation. In some parts of Auckland, two thirds of Pacific people for instance, have no Pakeha or European in their neighbourhood. Now is that the kind of New Zealand we really think we want? Is that the kind of New Zealand that we think we live in?” - Damon Selesa
• “I know in my own family, that my relatives couldn’t get places to rent, right, until they had to send someone out who was not a Pacific Islander in order to get a house rented and this is the kind of thing you will never realise unless we make it visible.” – Damon Selesa
• “If a Maori person goes to hospital and they are diagnosed with cancer and a Pakeha person goes to hospital and they’re diagnosed with cancer and we take that sample and we standardise it for age, we have every possible control, co-morbidity - that Maori person is far more likely to die. There is no other explanation for why that person is more likely to die and that horrifies me.” - Damon Selesa

The arguments against:

Duncan Garner’s Negative team said that individual cases of racism didn’t add up to New Zealand being a racist country overall, and that while New Zealand race relations are not perfect, our laws are colourblind and our inequalities are along social-economic, not ethnic lines. They insisted racisim of the past had gone and our race relations were continuing to improve.

• “I have suffered a lot of discrimination but just because New Zealand does have people with racist attitudes, doesn’t make the whole country racist.” – Mai Chen
• “Yes, some New Zealanders are discriminatory and racist and I have experienced that but in general, what you find, is a country that has laws which are colour-blind.” – Mai Chen
• “New Zealanders still discriminate against Asians more than anybody else but that doesn’t mean that all New Zealanders are racist. It doesn’t mean that the whole country is racist. The problem is the overstating of the problem. I came on this programme because I care about this issue. It may not matter to you because when I go out the door tonight I might be the subject of racist slurs but I don’t think it helps to label everyone in this country racist. I don’t think that helps the debate.” – Mai Chen
• “How you resolve the problem of poverty, is by giving kids, regardless of their skin colour, regardless of their ethnicity, regardless of what country they might have come from, a decent start in life. And that’s what we need to do.” – Phil Goff
• “The United Nations said that we are almost perfect in the sense that we have some challenges remaining but our examples are given to the world.” – Duncan Garner
• “The cause of this is not because we’re racist. It’s because we have an unequal and unfair society and we need to address that. “ – Phil Goff

A full transcript of the programme will be available at TV3.co.nz/TheVote within a few hours of the broadcast, and the episode will be available to view OnDemand.

- ends -


The Vote is competitive current affairs – a monthly series of entertaining and informative national debates on the big issues facing New Zealanders. The debates take place in theatres with audience participation and viewers at home are invited to take part, by having their say and voting.

The opinion that matters most is that of the audience watching at home, who are encouraged to vote for free at www.TheVote.co.nz, via Twitter @TheVoteNZ and Facebook at The Vote NZ. Viewers can also vote by texting ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to 3920 at a cost of 20 cents per text.

The Vote is produced by TV3’s News and Current Affairs division with funding from NZ On Air, and screens once every four weeks in the same timeslot as 3rd Degree.

3rd Degree presents ‘The Vote’.
Wednesday 24 April, 8.30pm on TV3.

Website: www.TheVote.co.nz
Twitter: twitter.com/TheVoteNZ
Facebook: facebook.com/TheVoteNZ

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