Editorial: Racist tirades all too regular

By Dylan Thorne

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The abuse dished out to taxi drivers has been in the headlines this week after a racist tirade by an Invercargill man was captured on a taxi camera and released to media.

The video, in which Greg Shuttleworth told a Pakistani taxi driver to "f*** off back to where you come from" and refused to pay a $7 cab fare, went viral.

Unfortunately it appears Mr Shuttleworth's behaviour is being replicated up and down the country.

We now know that drivers are at real risk from verbal assaults, as well as physical attacks.

The Bay of Plenty Times spoke to taxi drivers at Tauranga Airport. All were originally from India.

One driver, Rajinder Chauhan, said while most of his clients were polite there were a few who made racist remarks, usually under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

"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," he told the Bay of Plenty Times.

I can only imagine how difficult it can be for taxi drivers to remain professional when passengers are being abusive.

Migrants to New Zealand have taken the brave step of moving here to make a fresh start. Typically, they work hard to make a better life for themselves and their family. It's disappointing and embarrassing that they should face this type of abuse while going about their business.

The Invercargill taxi firm that released the footage did the right thing. It shed light on an issue we as a society need to address. There have been repercussions for Mr Shuttleworth who has made a tearful apology to the boss of the taxi driver he abused. His employer has confirmed it will conduct an internal investigation into his behaviour.

And perhaps next time he, and others like him, will think twice before hurling racial abuse at a taxi driver.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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