More than a thousand people have turned out for a rally in central Auckland calling for discrimination against Asians to stop.
They claim Asians have been the target of derogatory comments since covid-19 broke out.
They say Asian communities in New Zealand and around the world have suffered discrimination for too long.
Organiser Steph Tan is calling on the government to do more to prevent hate crime, especially toward Asian communities.
During an interview with RNZ Afternoons this week, she said the march yesterday was a chance to express solidarity with Asian-Americans as they grieved over the loss of six Asian women among the eight people killed by a gunman in Atlanta.
She said that during 2020 hate crimes committed towards Asian-Americans had risen by 1900 percent during the covid-19 pandemic as they were blamed for the origin of the virus.
It has been a deeply troubling time for the Asian community in New Zealand as well, she said.
“Sadly in parallel we are seeing some of that in New Zealand … this peaceful march or rally is to create awareness of the pain that Asians are feeling when we see one of our people killed purely motivated by racial concerns or just based on our skin colour.”
She said violent incidents against Asian people in this country included the beatings of some Asian people at a spa in Rotorua last year.
Chinese people, in particular, had also been made the scapegoats for the country’s housing crisis, she said.
“Love our culture, love our people!”
— Kate Gregan (@KateGregan) March 27, 2021
Tan said that while the Black Lives Matter movement was supporting Asian protests in the US, she was not seeing the same links between ethnic minorities here.
She is appealing to people to reach out to their Asian friends and ask if they are okay.
“Asian hate does truly exist – it just hasn’t been brought to light as much and a huge part of the rally is doing that in a compassionate way…”
Both in the US and New Zealand a higher number of businesses have been hit hard by the pandemic, she said.
The aim of the rally was to support each other, encourage people to stand up for Asians when they are racially abused and it might also act as an encouragement if people felt they need mental health support.
She is calling on politicians to introduce harsher sentences for hate crimes against people of all races.
This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.