[Documents menu] Social history of Aotearoa - New Zealand
Date: Tue, 2 Dec 97 12:58:56 CST
From: Marpessa Kupendua <nattyreb@ix.netcom.com>
Subject: !*Racism, neo-nazis take root in New Zealand immigrant bashing

Date: Sun, 30 Nov 1997 22:22:02 -0600
From: Michael Novick <mnovick@laedu.lalc.k12.ca.us>
Subject: Racism, neo-nazis take root in New Zealand immigrant bashing

Upsurge in racism worries authorities

By David Barber,
Herald correspondent in Wellington
29 November 1997

A spate of attacks on refugees and immigrants from Asia, Africa and the Middle East, along with the emergence of a neo-Nazi white supremacist gang, have focused attention on increasing racism in New Zealand.

A black Englishman and Pakistani, Somali and Iraqi families have all been victims of racist attacks in Christchurch and Wellington in recent weeks.

The Race Relations Office is threatening to take the Auckland-based neo-Nazi group Unit 88, which idolises Adolf Hitler, to court for distributing pro-white and anti-semitic literature. Unit 88 is launching an apparent nationwide drive for members.

Such events have shocked many New Zealanders, who traditionally pride themselves on living in a harmonious multicultural society.

Racial tensions have risen in recent years following a wave of Asian immigration. One in four New Zealanders are now non-European, according to the 1996 Census.

Authorities were concerned by a series of attacks and abuse on four Iraqi refugee families by three Maori teenage girls at Lower Hutt, near Wellington. The Iraqis were forced to flee their homes and settle in another suburb.

The Minister for Maori Affairs, Mr Tau Henare, condemned the attacks. But another Maori MP, Mr Tutekawa Wyllie, questioned the wisdom of placing refugee families in areas with high Maori and Pacific Islander populations. He said immigrants and existing ethnic communities could find it difficult to relate, and predicted the problem would grow.

The worst attacks have been in the South Island city of Christchurch, where gangs of skinheads have earned it the label of New Zealand's racist capital. In one case, a Somali family's home was firebombed. In another, a Pakistani mother had her veil torn off and her baby pushed into the gutter.

A week ago, about 5,000 people turned out for an anti-racism rally in the city's main square, organised to show solidarity with victims and denounce racial prejudice.

A similar rally will be held in Wellington on Monday, organised by the Jewish Council, following a police warning that Unit 88 was trying to establish a branch in the capital.

Police said the gang, which reportedly has bases in several cities on both islands, was circulating literature urging members to "waste" non-whites. One pamphlet said: "We have a youth division. We want to teach them to keep their blood pure, to keep ancestral lines pure. This is not racist - this is purist."

Police said undercover intelligence officers were also monitoring several other racist organisations in Auckland and Christchurch. One Auckland group is suspected of being linked to attacks and graffiti against Asian immigrants.

Membership numbers are not large, but police are worried about the growth of skinhead gangs in high schools and an increasing amount of "white power" propaganda on the Internet, where they have identified more than 100 objectionable sites.

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