On the eve of the three-year anniversary of the mosque terror attacks the Race Relations Commissioner has accused the Government of "dragging its heels" over proposed hate speech laws.
Strengthening the legislation against incitement of hatred and discrimination was a key recommendation of the Royal Commission of Inquiry after the March 15 attacks in Christchurch.
Last year the Government unveiled its proposals and invited the public to have its say, including creating a new criminal offence with harsher penalties and protections for more minority groups.
The proposals faced tough scrutiny, particularly from Opposition MPs who were concerned about the implications for free speech, and Justice Minister Kris Faafoi appeared to struggle at times to properly explain how they would be implemented.
Faafoi had planned to introduce the laws to Parliament early this year but told Newshub this had been delayed.
He said much care needed to be taken because "we also don't want to inflame the very issue that we are trying to fix here".
With no clear path to implementing the law changes, Foon said the Government was dragging its heels on the matter with "hate allowed to fester" and some groups not feeling protected.
"We have been waiting nearly three years for hate speech legislation to be strengthened in order to protect our communities.
"With public consultations finished, the Government must keep up the momentum.
"Implementation of such recommendations is a very serious matter. It needs to happen so we can learn from the mistakes of the past and make sure they don't happen again."
Foon said he had written to all the ministers involved, with mixed responses and only some replying.
"If I, as a Commissioner tasked with following up these matters, cannot get a response, what hope is there for our concerned communities?"
Foon said it looked like the Government had decided it was "politically too hard to deal with".
Foon said he agreed with community advocates who have said hate has been allowed to "fester and grow".
"Some groups do not feel protected. Yes, it is political to implement and make laws, but that is the job of the Government – to make difficult decisions."
Foon said the Government needed to set a clear date.
"Every day our communities wait and the risk of more events triggered or incited by hate increases.
"We have had meetings galore; my suggestion is less meeting and more getting on with making Aotearoa a safer place."