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Racial attack causes concern for wider community

Racial attack causes concern for wider community

Wellington's Chinese community is expressing concern over a racially motivated attack in the central city last Saturday, saying it raises doubts about wider community safety.

The incident, reported in the Dominion Post (5 December 2006), left New Zealand-born Chinese man Ken Young with a black eye. Mr Young claims he was confronted in Tory St by a gang of eight people who yelled "bloody Asian" during the attack. He believes he would not have been attacked if he had been white.

Steven Young, spokesperson for the Wellington Chinese Association, says the report was disturbing because of the vehemence of the attack and that a lone individual had been singled out on a fairly public stretch of road that contains a number of Chinese businesses.

"We seldom get public reports of racially motivated attacks in central Wellington," says Steven Young.

"It's a concern because Wellington is so multi-ethnic, and we do pride ourselves on having a sophisticated inner-city culture. This is signalling that if you stand out in any way, you may be vulnerable in your own neighbourhood. Like the majority of other Wellingtonians, this worries us."

According to Steven Young, however, incidents such as these have an impact on the wider community. "We have to be clear that these things have a cumulative effect on Wellington 's reputation in areas like tourism, international students, and new migrants. It's a pity when Wellington is making really good progress with its sister cities in China."

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Another concern is that the incidence of racial attacks may be higher than it appears because people don’t go to Police. He applauds Mr Young for both reporting the incident and speaking publicly about it.

He is also keen to use the incident as an opportunity for reflection.

"It's great that the media has picked this up and taken a socially responsible stand. These things should be acknowledged and considered, not hidden away.

"I think we do need to look at ourselves as a wider community and ask ourselves what our levels of tolerance are, and how we respond to these incidents. Do we need to ask what sort of place we want to be creating?"


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