"There's no place for racism in Aotearoa"
Many assaults including name-calling towards Asians have been reported since the outbreak of the virus in January.
New Zealand Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon said the commission is aiming to prevent such attacks from prevailing.
“It is absolutely unacceptable for people in Aotearoa to be subject to this type of conduct,” Foon said to Xinhua.
The Human Rights Commission is committed to helping to “make New Zealand a safe and inclusive community for everyone who lives here,” he said.
New Zealand is currently enforcing a ‘Level 4 lockdown’, stating that it is “likely that disease is not contained.” Both “community transmission” and “widespread outbreaks” are at high risk.
“Anyone would feel unsafe if they are subjected to name calling, verbal abuse or physical assault. When these behaviours are racially motivated then that is further cause for concern,” Foon said.
Incidents include a 60-year-old Asian photographer being physically assaulted in Christchurch and being left with a seriously injured left eye.
Another incident involves another elderly Asian man who was assaulted in the park in Aukland.
“I am monitoring this situation closely and I am in contact with the Police and have made my concerns about the racist undercurrent to COVID-19, known to the government,” Foon said.
“I want to know what government is doing to ensure COVID-19 related racism does not become the norm. Bullying, harassment and assaults must be stopped and prevented,” Foon said.
“The Human Rights Commission has an important role to play supporting communities. We encourage members of the public to contact us where they feel they have been discriminated against. This includes situations that might fall within the sections of the Human Rights Act that prohibit the incitement of racial disharmony,” Foon added.
“Whakamutua te kaikiri ki Aotearoa – there’s no place for racism in Aotearoa,” Foon added, using Maori.
In related news, Coronavirus hate crimes against Chinese people in the UK are rising.