Tracking Race Relations in New Zealand: Tūi Tūi Tuituiā 2014

The Human Rights Commission’ s (HRC) (2014) Tūi Tūi Tuituiā report is a unique and useful resource that provides a structured annual overview of key developments in race relations. Written in a readable form, beautifully laid out and illustrated, it examines the areas of human rights reporting, trends in racial discrimination complaints and progress on addressing racial inequities. It documents patterns in religious diversity, migration, resettlement, language retention and media monitoring. Furthermore it provides convenient updates on Waitangi Tribunal settlements and profiles relevant local diversity research.

tui tui tuituia

A highlight from this year’s report was the HRC’s call for a longer conversation on constitutional reform (Constitutional Advisory Panel, 2013) and their clear endorsement  of a Tiriti o Waitangi based constitution. The report noted the positive work being done by Aotearoa Matike Mai, Peace Movement Aotearoa, the Quakers and the Rowan Partnership (2012) amongst others to deepen constitutional conversations in pursuit of equity and justice.

In the context of  human rights reporting, Tūi Tūi Tuituiā provides a clear overview of what from a Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination’s (CERD)(2013) perspective New Zealand  is getting right and wrong in relation to compliance with our international obligations (United Nations, 1966). Although CERD’s criticism of the recent restructuring of the HRC and the disestablishment of race relations specific roles is noted, no further explanation or justification was offered for this unpopular development.  I wish HRC well in their on-going efforts to become a Tiriti-based organisation.

As an independent national human rights organisation this report would be strengthened by clearer disclosure and explanation of where and when there are key points of difference between the New Zealand government and HRC’s position on important matters. I await with interest the release of the new five-year national action plan on human rights. I hope to see a strong line within this plan honouring Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the importance of recognising indigenous rights as fundamental human rights issues.

As an anti-racism activist I welcome HRC’s leadership around challenging structural racism within the administration of the public sector from their unique position of institutional power. I note with some disappointment that it has now been three years since the publishing of their landmark report  A Fair go for All (Human Rights Commission, 2011) and it remains unclear what the HRCs next move is in relation to this key area of work. If the pathway forward is unclear why not call relevant stakeholders together, review the evidence at hand, about what we know will make a sustainable difference and take action.

Since the New Zealand government’s dramatic and late endorsement of the International Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (United Nations, 2007) the declaration has largely fallen below the radar within dominant discourses. It is reassuring to learn the HRC has been quietly promoting awareness of this important document and exciting to learn a monitoring mechanism is being developed.

Congratulations to Wairoa for their visionary leadership on the promotion of Te Reo Māori and their inspirational challenge of becoming bilingual (again) by 2040. With the current crisis of only 21.3% (Statistics New Zealand, 2013) of Māori  being able to hold a conversation in Te Reo Māori, it is this type of bold community leadership which will ensure the survival of Te Reo for future generations.

Tūi Tūi Tuituiā draws on a wealth of fresh statistics and data. The demographic projection that by 2021 thirty percent of Aucklanders (and 16% of all New Zealanders) will be of Asian descent is a timely reminder of the urgent need to strengthen cultural competencies of non-Asian New Zealanders. The consistent pattern of discrimination against Asian New Zealanders that can be tracked through historic HRC Tūi Tūi Tuituiā reports over the last ten years needs a sophisticated multi-level anti-racism intervention.

It is disturbing that 76% of New Zealanders on TV3’s The Vote in 2013 felt New Zealand is a racist country. If we are looking for a solution to racism public health providers across the country on a daily basis woo, beguile, persuade, coax and berate New Zealanders into making healthy choices. These public health tools of social marketing, behaviour change, systems change theory, policy and legislation could easily be applied in the field of anti-racism praxis. With the persistence of personally-mediated racism it seems timely to move beyond relaying on the ad hoc efforts of underfunded community groups and instead to embrace evidence based planned approaches to anti-racism praxis.

Ten years on the Tūi Tuituiā series of race relations reports are a useful collection from which to track positive and negative trends in race relations. As the peak human rights organisation I encourage HRC to take further strategic leadership in this key area. Organising race relations days, awareness resources and supporting cultural festivals is admirable work but where is the five/ten/twenty year plan to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination? I would love to see the report include details of what the HRC are specifically doing to end racism and what actions they would like civil society to do to contribute to this work.

Heather Came



Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. (2013). Concluding observations of the CERD on New Zealand (CERD/C/NZL/CO/18-20). Geneva, Switzerland: United Nations.

Constitutional Advisory Panel. (2013). New Zealand constitution: A report on a convesation. Wellington, New Zealand: New Zealand Government.

Human Rights Commission. (2011). A fair go for all? Structural discrimination and systemic barriers to ethnic equality. Wellington, New Zealand: Author.

Human Rights Commmision. (2014). Tūi tūi tuituiā Race relations in 2013. Auckland, New Zealand: Author.

Peace Movement Aotearoa, Quaker Treaty Relationships Group, & Rowan Partnership. (2012). Time for change: A framework for community discussion on values-based and Treaty-based constitutional arrangements. Wellington, New Zealand: Peace Movement Aotearoa.

Statistics New Zealand. (2013). 2013 census quickstats about Māori from

United Nations. (1966). International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination Retrieved from

United Nations. (2007). Declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples   Retrieved from



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