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Calling All Kiwis: Public Asked To Take A Stand Against Racism And Cast One More Vote This Election

As election-mania sweeps the nation, Kiwis are being asked to cast one more vote in the next week. In addition to the party vote, electorate vote, and votes on the referenda, the public have a chance to cast their vote against racism.

With one week to go, public votes will determine the winner of the Aotearoa Poster Competition, a nationwide project that is using art to take action against racism towards Chinese New Zealanders.

The winning artist will have their piece rolled out as part of a nationwide Phantom Billstickers campaign, with the aim of generating reflection and conversation about race, diversity and inclusion. The 14 finalists are spread across the country - from Auckland to Queenstown, Gisborne and Karamea, and range from under-18s through to experienced artists. With each artist’s unique background, there’s a unique perspective on the theme that’s been brought to life.

Aotearoa Poster Competition project organiser, Bev Hong, says the idea was born out of a clear necessity and opportunity for this kind of intervention.

“The project was started in April this year, when the team got together galvanised by the increasing racist behaviour towards Chinese New Zealanders seen in New Zealand – especially after the onset of Covid-19,” says Ms Hong.

People of Chinese heritage living in Aotearoa are a very diverse group and there’s a long history of Chinese settling in New Zealand, dating back to the 1840s, something that Ms Hong is passionate about sharing.

”Chinese-New Zealanders have been a part of New Zealand’s identity for over 150 years, from the early gold miners who came to New Zealand to more recent Chinese migrants who have come here from many different places to settle. It’s important that that part of our nation’s history isn’t minimized or othered but connects with the broader historic narrative for Aotearoa. It’s also important that the diversity of the Chinese communities is recognised.”

“We’re encouraging and inviting all New Zealanders to take a stand against racism. Get online, vote for your favourite poster, and participate.Standing up to racism can be scary, and this is a simple action everyone can take to show their support for Aotearoa’s diverse ethnic minorities.”

“After March 15, New Zealand said “this isn’t us”. Now in the context of Covid-19, and the outpouring of racism of all kinds that’s come with it, it’s time to show up and walk the talk. We need to support each other, be actively inclusive and stand up for valuing diversity in New Zealand society,” says Ms Hong.

The judges, selecting winners outside of the People’s Choice category, recognise the challenges of creating a poster with a clear message and ‘wow’ factor that causes you to stop and pay attention to it when you see it in the street.

“It’s interesting how different and clever the approaches were – from intricate Asian stylings to bold minimalist design that conveys a message of connection across cultural difference” says Ms Hong.

“The whakatauki “He waka eke noa” and English phrasing “We’re all in this together” reflect the competition’s ethos and have also been used frequently in the artworks - paying tribute to the idea that we must engage with each other, have the conversations and work together if things are going to change for the better.”

Over 700 people have already cast their ballot in the inaugural Aotearoa Poster Competition. To see the shortlisted entries and cast your vote, head to https://www.aotearoaposter.com/ Public voting closes 5pm Thursday 22 October, with winners announced 7pm Friday 30 October.

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