Reflect on what 'binds us together', says Foon on Race Relations Day

By Kelvin McDonald
Photo / File

Whānau of all cultural backgrounds are encouraged to reflect on the things that bind them together and appreciate the differences that make them unique and special, Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon says, as Race Relations Day is marked in Aotearoa today.

“Race Relations Day provides an opportunity for people of all backgrounds in Aotearoa to come together and celebrate our rich, diverse cultural landscape.” 

Foon says, in particular, it "gives us a chance to celebrate the more than 200 ethnic communities that contribute to the beauty of Aotearoa New Zealand.” 

This year’s Race Relations Day theme is “Whiria te muka tāngata” - flourishing interwoven communities of Aotearoa.

The theme is centred on connecting and weaving people together.

"This is to signify the importance of bringing people together, building harmonious relations, especially during the pandemic and the separation many people are currently experiencing, a Human Rights Commission website description states.

"A space to connect is urgently needed in 2022 given the circumstances around Covid that we currently find ourselves in," it adds. 

March 21, globally is marked as the International Day for the Elimination of Racism, which remembers the day in 1960 police in Sharpeville, South Africa opened fire and killed 69 people - including ten children - at a peaceful demonstration against apartheid laws.

In addition to the events for Race Relations Day taking place during the month of March, the Human Rights Commission has been collating a list of events that are occurring throughout Aotearoa commemorating the events of March 15.

“Each year Race Relations Day falls less than a week after the anniversary of the horrific 15 March 2019 attacks against Muslim worshippers in Ōtautahi Christchurch. It is important that we remember the lessons of that day so that we can move forward as a nation and build towards a more harmonious and inclusive Aotearoa,” says Foon.