We collectively need to pull our heads out of the sand when it comes to confronting the uglier side of our beautiful little country.

Lush green rolling hills and beautiful beaches yes, but pure clean and green? Not necessarily.

A great place to raise kids yes. But not for everyone: poverty is real, so is bullying, child abuse and our youth suicide rate.

A multicultural diverse haven celebrating the dynamics of many different cultures yes -but still racist.

Advertisement

A booming wine industry and the home of clever craft beer makers yes - but also a rampant binge-drinking culture.

Mental health, sexual harassment, inequality. These things are real. Not nice to hear, but true.

Having these issues does not make us unique in the world, but ignoring them, pretending they don't exist, does.

So why do we refuse to acknowledge the realities for so many?

Is it because unless it's happened to us, it's not real? Is it because we are ashamed to admit that our little piece of paradise just might not be quite the nirvana we wish it was? Is it a superiority complex?

Do we have the mindset that everywhere else is crap, so we must be awesome?

This week I felt sickened by the story about the note left on the windscreen of a woman's car saying this was not her country. It read, 'this is NZ, not your country, our land, our carpark!'

This woman and her family, originally from Iran, came here 15 years ago to make New Zealand their home.

They are New Zealand citizens, running a family business, part of the community, their children grew up here. It is their home, they are Kiwis.

And yet this could happen to them.

One note, so much toxin, so many vile words, and what for?

Reading these stories is horrible, and yes we can discount it as a one-off event. But how many one-off events do you want before it's a pattern?

People who write notes like this, people who feel this way, we can't just dismiss them as uneducated losers.

We have to face up to the fact they are part of the fabric of our society and it's our collective shame.

We need to step up and take responsibility for the way we treat others, we need to accept that fear drives much of the vitriol, and we need to own it, and chip away at it until it's better.

Not just the racism, but the poverty, the bullying, the harassment. All of it.

Saying it's not real, putting our heads in the sand and brushing it off, hasn't worked, and isn't working.

We should want better for our kids and our country.

Hopefully seeing stories like this latest racist note on this woman's windscreen, wakes us all up to the fact that yes, we may live in paradise, but there's still a lot of work to do.