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Whole of Sectors approach needed to address racial abuse

30 July 2013

Whole of Sectors approach needed to address racial abuse

The New Zealand Federation of Multicultural Councils is calling for a Whole of Sectors approach to work together to address racist abuse as it is becoming awkward and embarrassing for ethnic communities after the recent incident in Invercargill with the Taxi driver.

President Tayo Agunlejika said that in the experience of his members this was not an isolated incident. He noted that the Executive Director of the New Zealand Taxi Federation Tim Reddish had acknowledged that he had received plenty of anecdotal reports of similar racist behaviour.

"Given this acknowledgment" said Mr Agunlejika, "it is incumbent on the Federation to do something about it, and they should work with the Police to address such unacceptable behaviour. It is a health and safety issue for taxi drivers, and also a matter of criminal behaviour. More so, this is becoming a social and cultural issue that will erode all the focus, work and investment made by Government on Economic growth has highlighted by His Worship Mayor Tim Shadbolt.

He said that under Section 4 (1) of the Summary Offences Act it was an offence to address words to any person in a public place intending to threaten, alarm insult or offend that person or to use threatening or offensive words being reckless whether any person is alarmed or insulted by those words.

Mr Agunlejika applauded the taxi driver, Mr Tariq Humayum, for his polite manner during the offensive behaviour, for videoing the abuse on his phone, and for reporting the matter to the Police. "That takes real courage and demands support" he said.

"The Federation hope this will be the last we hear of racism motivated offensive behaviour and language. New Zealand is a multi-cultural country and hope that there will be a leadership to assist in educating the general population about living together as a truly Multicultural Society, to make people aware of the offence of and to encourage people to complain to the Police if it occurs."

While deploring the incident, Mr Agunlejika said the Federation was heartened by Mr Shuttleworth’s remorse, the public response to the abuse, including from the Mayor of Invercargill, the New Zealand Police, the Race Relations Commissioner and many people in the social media.
However, the call for whole of sectors joint action approach recognises that this issue goes beyond what the individual might now feel and seeks to address this wider issue.


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