Taxpayer money was used to fund violently racist content and with your support we forced the Race Relations Commissioner to not only acknowledge it, but to say he personally does not agree with it.
We are actually still engaged in a battle with media companies to get the letter printed! It has been with the "legal department" at NZME for a number of days now and we are getting radio silence...
Even our offer of a legal opinion as to whether the letter breaches advertising standards hasn’t been accepted.
This is incredibly frustrating, but while the pearl clutchers search for reasons to silence us, we have continued to push forward in exposing this hateful racism.
Undeterred by the New Zealand media's attempts to ignore us, we had an opinion piece published in the Spectator Australia on the matter.
Initially, in response to the number of complaints the Human Rights Commission has received relating to Tusiata Avia's racist poetry, Meng Foon was dismissive and the Human Rights Commission simply posted a statement on their website that provided justification for the racism on the grounds of hurt caused by colonialism.
This response was appalling, so we were preparing to write to Justice Minister Kiri Allan as the Human Rights Commission falls under her responsibility. We intended to fill her in on our significant concerns about the failure of Commissioner Meng Foon to approach his role impartially and without prejudice.
At Waitangi this year, Minister Kiri Allan said that we cannot let another generation of New Zealanders grow up with racism. Our hope was that she would remember this.
But then Meng Foon made the Human Rights Commission's second statement!
Prior to this statement, the commissioner had made it clear that he was willing to stand up for victims of racism only when it suits his own discriminatory views, leaping on any small skirmish and commenting in the media about every microaggression, except when the target of the racism was white.
It is a substantial improvement for Meng Foon to say:
"I personally do not agree with the tone of the piece, the words used and the imagery it evokes."
"I will continue to advocate for vulnerable communities and promote positive race relations, hold people to account, and help inform and educate New Zealanders around human rights."
"I will be reaching out to Creative NZ, the Classifications Office and Stuff Media, among other parties, to discuss this matter further."
However, we aren't letting the commissioner off the hook completely as his refusal to explicitly call the poem "racist" demonstrates that he still doesn't think white people can be the target of racism. His careful choice of words are very telling. He does not say "this is racist", he says "this has caused offence to some people who may consider it to be racist."
Additionally, he seems to express some empathy for the racist poet's position saying: "I feel for those who have been, and continually are, impacted by the trauma of colonisation."
The future of our country must be one where New Zealanders of all backgrounds can prosper. We should all strive for mutual respect of other cultures and a society free of discrimination.
Unfortunately, Commissioner Foon has not been working towards that future. He has provided cover for those endorsing hatred and discrimination towards white New Zealanders. This statement is a step in the right direction, but he still has a long way to go in demonstrating that he is committed to fostering racial harmony among all New Zealanders.
We will continue to hold Commissioner Foon to account, but we now turn our focus to following up our request for an investigation into racism at Creative NZ. Our letter to Minister Carmel Sepuloni was palmed off to Associate Minister Willow-Jean Prime who has not responded. We will be following this up as a matter of urgency.