A woman was yelled at to "go back to China" after she told two women they shouldn't feed birds at a popular Auckland park.

And the Henderson resident, who has lived in New Zealand for more than 10 years, said it wasn't the first time she's experienced racism here.

The race relations commissioner says the incident shows casual racism is part of everyday life for many Kiwis, and it follows comments by Taika Waititi earlier this year that New Zealand is "racist as f...".

Serena Sun was walking at Western Springs about 1pm on Thursday when she saw a group of people throwing bread to birds in the water.


She told the Herald as she passed them she politely suggested they shouldn't be feeding the animals because nearby signs said "please do not feed the birds".

The two women, who were with a man and a toddler, responded aggressively, Sun said.

"We got in an argument and they spoke badly to me. They said, 'Go back to China'."

Sun took photos of the women making obscene gestures.

She said they told her they knew they weren't supposed to feed the birds and had seen the signs but ignored them.

A sign at Western Springs park telling people not to feed birds. Photo / Serena Sun
A sign at Western Springs park telling people not to feed birds. Photo / Serena Sun

Sun said she was angry because the women had a child aged about 1 or 2 with them and they were teaching the child to feed the birds, even though they knew they shouldn't be doing that.

Sun said other people in New Zealand had made similar comments to her before.

"It's happened many times. It's pretty common.


"Most people in New Zealand are quite nice and friendly but some people in New Zealand don't like Chinese and they say something quite rude to us."

Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy said the incident showed casual racism was, unfortunately, part of everyday life for many New Zealanders.

"These kinds of incidents and the number of complaints to the Human Rights Commission suggest that it's not getting any better. We need to talk about it as a first step in addressing it."

Devoy said that was why the Human Rights Commission had launched its Give Nothing to Racism campaign.

"Conversations about the everyday things that happen in our community can bring a new awareness to those of us who have never experienced racial discrimination.

"If awareness leads to action to address it, that can only benefit New Zealand. That's why we believe it is important that New Zealanders call racism out and take action."


Earlier this year Boy director labelled New Zealand "racist as f***".

"I think New Zealand is the best place on the planet, but it's a racist place. People just flat-out refuse to pronounce Maori names properly.

"There's still profiling when it comes to Polynesians. It's not even a colour thing – like, 'Oh, there's a black person.' It's, 'If you're Poly then you're getting profiled'."

Waititi also fronted an anti-racism campaign for Human Rights Commission.