It's ironic that while Australians argue about what is racist and what isn't, New Zealanders are having the same debate. The difference is we're better at talking about it than our cousins across the ditch.

Don't get me wrong we're not perfect, we don't all agree and pockets of extremism do exist here. But overall we're better at looking back at our history with open eyes and with both eyes: not just one eye. The Treaty of Waitangi settlements process is about truth and reconciliation, acknowledging human rights abuses committed by our Government against Maori New Zealanders.

Those abuses took many forms and scarred generations of families, we have a lot of ground to make up. We argue with each other and we don't always get it right. The thing that gives me hope is that our kids are way better than us. Unlike many of their parents and elders, our kids have no problem with Maori language and culture: they see it as part of their own identity, something to be proud of. But it's not been an easy journey to get where we are now and we had to start by talking and acknowledging injustice.

That's what sets us apart from Australia: they are just starting a conversation we've already been having for some time. Adam Goodes is forcing Australians to speak up, stand up and talk about what kind of country they want to live in. These are important times for Australians and people like Adam have the ability to help change the fate and future of a nation.


When we remember that Adam's parents were born as foreigners in their own ancestral lands - Aboriginal Australians weren't granted citizenship of their own country until 1967- we realise just how far Australia has to go if they are going to stand alongside one another and face the future by looking back at their past with open eyes.

No one wants to admit they've done something that racially stereotypes others. That's why a common defence is to argue that when we call them out we're shutting down debate. The reality is that the opposite is true: when we call out racial stereotyping we're starting the debate because we want to talk about why it is wrong.

Last year an elderly Kiwi passed away, he had fought at Monte Cassino and represented his country in rugby. And yet when he marched back into his hometown in rural New Zealand, when the soldiers got to town - he drank his beer out on the footpath. Why? Because at that time Maori New Zealanders weren't allowed in pubs. Shocking but true, this is a part of our history many of us would prefer not to remember but it's important we do. Because at the time that law was in place those who put it there would have argued that it wasn't "Real Racism" and no doubt they would have had reasons to back them up.

But the reality is that it was racist and it was wrong. No doubt across the Tasman there would have been the same kinds of arguments by those in power about why Adam Goodes is the first generation of his family to be born with Australian citizenship.

That elderly kaumatua ended up as a life member and chairman of the very club he was once banned from entering. Like many of his generation he rarely talked about the racism he faced living in his own country, but we owe it to him and to ourselves to keep the conversation going.

It is all of our responsibility to talk openly about racism and racial stereotyping. We won't always agree but at least we're having the conversation and this is important.

Right now we are fast becoming one of the most ethnically diverse nations on earth, we are also one of the most peaceful. Whether this is something we pass on to our children is up to us. Because our human rights don't belong in a document in the United Nations. Our human rights belong here, at home.