Gisborne community centre Te Kurahuna recently held a panel discussion on institutional racism through an indigenous lens.
Mark and Diana Kopua, co-directors of Te Kurahuna Ltd, facilitated the discussion.
The panel included Gisborne District councillor Meredith Akuhata-Brown, Assistant Māori Commissioner for Children Glenis Philip-Barbara, Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon and Dr Diana Kopua, a Ngāti Porou Psychiatrist.
Diana Kopua explained that the night was about creating a space to be able to have uncomfortable conversations.
The discussion included a live band and a song contributed by those attending.
"You need to have levity when you are talking about such difficult issues, and even if you were stuck intellectually about a particular point, music and arts can shift you and that's what tonight is about."
Akuhata-Brown said it was time to demand it stopped.
"Allow us to figure out what we need for us, because that's about Māori led, by Māori for Māori."
She also mentioned her English, Welsh and Scottish side and the need for a partnership, For all to eventually stand together "and be proud of how far we have all come".
"The constitutional change piece is absolutely critical to move forward as a nation."
Philips-Barbara said Te Tiriti o Waitangi set out a clear plan for power to be shared.
She also spoke about the need at an individual and whānau level to recover knowledge, by teaching children their reo and whakapapa "so they know who they are and where they come from".
Foon described his role as Race Relations Commissioner as maintaining and enhancing harmonious communities.
"Just going through the national action plan against racism, it was signed in 1972 between the United Nations and the government and it has taken 50 years to have it on the Labour party manifesto," he said.
He went on to congratulate Labour for addressing the goal of eliminating racism.