Amy McGillivray

Amy is the lifestyles reporter for the Bay of Plenty Times.

Cab drivers face regular abuse

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Tauranga taxi drivers say they face racial abuse on a regular basis.

The Bay of Plenty Times spoke to taxi drivers at Tauranga Airport, who were all from India, after a racist rant against an Invercargill taxi driver was captured on camera and broadcast.

Rajinder Chauhan said most of the time their clients were nice and it was just a few who would make racist remarks.

"It happens day-to-day. It comes out with the alcohol and drug influences. The people are very nice, it's only a small per cent who are troublemakers. We do our best to deal with it but, at the end of the day, it's like you're from a different planet. I just ignore it and think they are narrow minded and have a lack of knowledge, there is no point in arguing."

Mr Chauhan said he could usually pick the customers who would be trouble by their body language. "They start a conversation, it's just a general conversation then when they ask where I'm from and I say I'm from Te Puke. I can be very hard sometimes and say "what, do you have a problem with my skin?" That shuts them up pretty quickly."

Mr Chauhan said cameras in cabs hadn't stopped verbal abuse as they only recorded movement. He said there had been an incident on Saturday night where a minibus driver went to Gate Pa to pick people up and had been attacked.

"They broke the window. We don't know if it was maybe a shotgun or someone throwing stones, the windows are made of strong safety glass, they are hard to break. I'm not sure if it was because of where we are from, but the police are investigating it."

Mr Chauhan said racial abuse was becoming less common as New Zealand became more cosmopolitan.

Sunand Kumar said he only got abuse occasionally. "People will say things about my nationality, but it's quite rare. It only happens on the weekend."

New Zealand Cabs manager Bruce Rainey said his drivers usually faced no more than one racist comment a week but, compared to the number of customers, it was not too bad.

"Just about every one of them is the same thing 'why don't you go back to your own country'. It really does wear a bit thin after a while, especially when you've lived here for 32 years or so and brought up your family here. It's quite sad that's the best they can come up with."

 

- Bay of Plenty Times

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