Hundreds of people took to Auckland's Queen St on Saturday to protest anti-Asian violence in the United States and calling on New Zealanders to speak up against racism.
Organisers say the protest is a show of solidarity with Asian-Americans after the March 16 spa shootings in Atlanta that killed eight people, six of them Asian-American.
The rally kicked off with speeches at Aotea Square before protesters marched down Queen St to Commercial Square.
Several speakers said racism is pervasive in New Zealand, acknowledging tangata whenua and the country's colonial history.
"Racism cannot be protested without acknowledging the colonial struggles of our indigenous people and other disenfranchised groups who have done work to combat the racist struggles we are all a part of," said Chinese-Pākehā director and actor Chye Ling Huang.
"From Atlanta to Epsom we are all connected."
Research shows the outbreak of Covid-19 has disproportionately affected ethnic groups.
A Human Rights Commission study this year showed that 39 per cent of respondents have faced discrimination since the start of the outbreak, but the rates for tangata whenua (55 per cent), Chinese (54 per cent) and Pacific (50 per cent) peoples were higher.
"Racism has been part of the country for a very long time," said Labour MP Naisi Chen, calling on the Asian community to step forward and serve in government, which elicited cheers from the crowd.
"If you have a passion for our country, come and work for our government agencies so that the people who serve this country reflect the people that it serves.
"We are part of the team of 5 million."
Demonstrators marched peacefully down Queen St chanting "Stop Asian hate", "We belong here", and "Love our culture, love our people".
Illustrator and mother-of-two Lisa Sjoblom moved to New Zealand from Sweden four years ago.
"I've experienced racism my whole life so it's natural to be here. It's quite often played down as soft racism, as jokes, as if it didn't affect people's lives in important ways," Sjoblom said.
James, a designer, said he has seen his Chinese partner's difficulties growing up in New Zealand.
"For Pākehā people in a position of privilege, we have an obligation to speak up for people who don't or can't, like older Chinese people where it's not in their culture to speak up and try and change things," he told the Herald.
"It's the bare minimum for us to stand up and hold a sign."
National MP Melissa Lee believes the protest is important in saying that anti-Asian racism is real in New Zealand.
"Children are not racist, it's a learned behaviour. People need to understand that it does actually hurt, it does actually impact and we need to talk about it," she said.