High-profile lawyer Mai Chen locks her car on the drive to work because of abuse stemming from racist attitudes, Act leader David Seymour says.
Mr Seymour has hit out at a social media post that criticises an unidentified driver, saying such activity makes Kiwis look like "a bunch of slack-jawed [yokels]".
A photograph posted to the "Overheard @ University of Auckland" Facebook page shows a car being driven on the wrong side of the road, and is captioned "overseen Asian driving on wrong side to uni".
Noting the post had been "liked" about 1400 times in only three hours, Mr Seymour appealed to people to "raise the level a notch or two".
In a post on his own Facebook page, Mr Seymour said he knew a prominent New Zealander who has driven here for 25 years and now locks her car on the way to work, due to the abuse she gets "for the way she looks".
"Posts like this don't help, and make us look like a bunch of slack-jawed [yokels] instead of a modern, sophisticated, cosmopolitan trading nation."
Mr Seymour told the Herald the prominent New Zealander was Ms Chen, who had made the comment during a public lecture at the University of Auckland on Tuesday.
Ms Chen, managing partner at Chen Palmer New Zealand Public and adjunct professor of law at the university, was speaking after the establishment of a Superdiversity Centre for Law, Policy and Business, which she will chair. The centre will analyse viewpoints of minorities in challenges they experience, and their views on best solutions.
Ms Chen, a member of the first Taiwanese family in the South Island, in 1970, did not respond to requests for comment yesterday.
"I went to her lecture ... and she was making the case that, globally, superdiversity is defined as being 25 per cent foreign-born and 100 different ethnicities. Well, Auckland is at nearly twice those figures. It's time for us to embrace that," Mr Seymour said.
Gerald Wong, president of the NZ Chinese Association, said in his view, discrimination had declined significantly.
"I think attitudes have changed quite a lot in the past 10 years. I haven't come across any abuse like that for a long, long time."