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Awful that Asians face intensified racism here

Letter

I'm saddened to get feedback that people of East Asian and Southeast Asian descent in Gisborne are feeling targeted with intensified verbal assaults and innuendos during this lockdown. It's also heart-breaking to hear that Pacific people in New Zealand are being targeted by racism amid the latest outbreak. This seems to have been amplified by the spawn of ignorant and stigmatising rhetoric of doofuses who have tried to racialise the coronavirus.

Some of my Asian friends in Gisborne — the kindest, most compassionate community-minded people — brace themselves for the heightened animosity and humiliation every time they go to Countdown or Pak'nSave. This has had a profound effect on my friends' sense of belonging and safety in Gisborne. One friend now opts to ask her non-Asian husband to go to the supermarket in her place.

While past and future perpetrators of such incendiary slurs are in the minority, it's mind-boggling to me that we're in the 21st century and still having to deal with this problem at all. We all have a shared history — our common ancestor lived about 300,000 years ago, and we share 99.9 percent of our genetic make-up with every other person. We shouldn't need to justify being kind to other races or ethnicities through this, though surely these facts should obliterate racism.

I have a simple request to all those reading this: call out racist behaviour towards our Asian whanau, or any racial or ethnic group. Courageously remind people who denigrate others that we have real existential threats to deal with like pandemics, climate change, environmental degradation, the bad kind of artificial intelligence, or the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Perhaps by instead spending our words and thoughts on trying to address these things, that will quite literally prevent the demise of all of us along with our planet.

We must call out racist and mean-spirited behaviour whether it be in person or online, and it's fine to point out strongly that this is not ok and that there are more important things to focus on.

Everyone should feel safe and welcome in our community — whatever their race, ethnicity, or identity.

Samantha Holdsworth

  1. Joe Naden says:

    Tena rawa atu koe Samantha,
    Your whanau, going back to Jim, who farmed out at Puhatikotiko, have always been to the forefront in Turanganui a Kiwa seeing all people as equals.
    Jim Holdsworth, a fluent speaker of Te Reo Maori, spoke easily with all the kaumatua of the old days such as Hetekia Te Kani te Ua, Waioeka Brown, Henare Ruru and Rawiri Tamanui. He collected every flax (harakeke) variety in Aotearoa and planted them on his farm and made them available to Maori for kete, whaariki and potae. His daughter opted to take Te Reo Maori at Waikohu College in the 70s.

    Yes we understand where you are coming from on behalf of those who are members of minority groups because we are one too.

    Nga mihinui ki a koe mo ou whakaaro, mo to tautoko.

  2. Dave says:

    Samantha, I can’t fathom why this would happen. People need to chill and embrace all within our community. This reflects badly on our community, and it’s not the way that I want our area to be portrayed.

  3. Anne Salmond says:

    Great letter, Samantha

  4. Dot Louie, Auckland says:

    Thanks for your words Samantha. I am at the point, I am getting pissed off waiting for those who verbally abuse Asians to grow up in the 21st Century and get a life. They must be the most miserable beings that they have to abuse someone to make themselves feel “good”.
    I posted on Facebook that I had some racist remarks about my kind and queue jumping when I shopped at New World supermarket, Lunn Avenue from a Pakeha woman and her male companion and suggested she extend the use of hand sanitiser to the orifice called her mouth. I also made a complaint to security but I haven’t heard anything from that supermarket from the message I left on their social media page and given that there has been a terrorist attack on seven people at the Countdown Lynnmall, one has to wonder what measures they have in place for general public safety and if they have pulled the knives from their shelves. I am from Gisborne but have lived in Auckland for a while. My grandfather paid a poll tax and set up the fresh produce market gardens around Makaraka and Matawhero for the Louie family. The story is in Sons of the Soil, a book written about all of the Chinese market gardeners and their contribution to NZ’s economy.