Public perceptions of discrimination against Asians and international students have risen in the past year, says the Human Rights Commission.

The commission released results of a UMR Research survey last month, before the annual Race Relations Report to be released on Thursday.

Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres says some of the harassment cases heard by the commission include verbal abuse, usually from people in cars, having water bombs and eggs thrown and bullying in schools.

"This type of behaviour is not carried out by the majority of New Zealanders, but it is common and everyone needs to help put a stop to it," said Mr de Bres.

Despite the findings, police say levels of crime committed against and by international students have taken a sharp dive in recent years.

"Besides crashes and accidents, we have very few cases involving international students now," said Jessica Phuang, police Asian liaison officer.

She said burglary, kidnappings and fights among international students used to be a weekly occurrence five years ago - but the number of serious crime cases was down to zero this year.

Ms Phuang attributes the lowering of the crime rate to police and community initiatives, such as the formation of a focus group to look at international student safety issues and the police crime and safety workshops for new foreign students conducted at schools by the department's Asian liaison officers.

International students said they felt generally safe in New Zealand.

Kamal Krishnan, a 19-year-old Indian IT diploma student in Melbourne, who came to Auckland with the intention of transferring here to complete his studies, says he feels safer here than in Australia.

"As long as I am in Australia, my parents are having sleepless nights worrying about my safety because they think there is a strong anti-Indian sentiment there," Kamal said. "In Melbourne I am usually back in my apartment by 8pm, but I feel safe enough to go to McDonald's at 2am in Auckland."

However, police say a case involving an Indian international student who vanished last year still remains unsolved.

Srikanth Rayadurgam, a culinary arts diploma student at the Auckland University of Technology, disappeared without trace on October 1.

His last recorded activity was trying to make two calls to his uncle in India from his cellphone from Karangahape Rd just after 10pm that night.

Srikanth, originally from Hyderabad, arrived in New Zealand just seven months earlier on a student permit.

Brother-in-law Nagesh Kakanoor told the Herald police had informed the family they still had no clues as to where Srikanth could be or how he could have vanished.

Sep 2004: Chinese student Wen Hui Cui, 23, found guilty of murdering his estranged girlfriend and one of her friends.

July 2005: Zu Ping Zhou, 19, was jailed for 10 years with two other Chinese men for kidnapping a Howick Chinese woman and dumping her, gagged and bound.

Dec 2007: Students Cui Xiangxin and Li Zheng, both 22, jailed 18 years for murdering fellow Chinese student Wan Biao, whose body was found floating in a suitcase on the Waitemata Harbour.

Dec 2007: Former Takapuna Grammar School student Chun Lee was jailed for four years for importing methamphetamine with an estimated street value of $250,000.