Well-known New Zealanders opened up to Jennifer Dann about their thoughts on race relations in New Zealand. Here are their 12 best answers from the past year.
1. TJ Perenara — All Black (Ngāti Rangitihi, Te Arawa)
"As a kid, I was taught that Captain Cook founded New Zealand. A lot more happened before he stepped on these shores and a lot more happened afterwards. We should be taught everything about our past because that's what's shaped our mindset today. People shy away from having those conversations because there could be conflict involved. I think conflict's healthy, as long as people aren't nasty and it's done in a respectful way. That's where growth lies."
2. Xavier Horan — actor (Ngāti Awa)
"We need to be honest about that fact that racism exists in our country; that white privilege exists in our country and we need to start teaching the real history of our country. Tell the bloody truth about what happened to my people! Don't try to skim over it and say we're all good. My mum was forced to change her name to Blossom because people didn't want to say Puawai. How do you think that affected her and thousands of our whānau that grew up being told the name gifted by their ancestors is not important? These are things we need to acknowledge to move forward. If we can be real with each other, we'll grow stronger — honestly. A lot of Pākehā fear giving over their power but it's not about that. It's about being equal."
3. Bernadine Oliver-Kerby — radio host
"I think voicing differing opinions is Tama Waipara healthy. Hearing other people's views is how you grow. You're not always going to agree 100 per cent, but even if you take a little part of someone's mindset, it's amazing what you learn."
4. Miriama McDowell — actress (Ngāti Hine)
"We need more diversity in film and television, and we're not there yet. True partnership starts from the outset. For too long we've gone, "We'll get a Māori adviser at the end" and it ain't good enough. You have to engage in partnership from the first day of writing the story and walk the path together. It's harder, it takes more time and money and understanding but I think that's all we can settle for now if we really want to move forward."
5. Tessa Duder — author of First Map: How James Cook Charted Aotearoa New Zealand
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"The first two days of Cook's arrival were a disaster and it's important to acknowledge that. Cook had strong directions from the Royal Society in London to treat indigenous people with respect and only fire in self-defence. He was greatly distressed by what happened and grateful to find the Tahitian on board, Tupaia, could act as interpreter. I don't believe the stories of those first encounters have been swept under the carpet — people have just forgotten. The problem is we're not teaching it in schools. This book, I hope, charts a middle passage through the shoals of contrary opinions."
6. Rosabel Tan — art curator
"After the Christchurch massacre there was criticism of Jacinda Ardern's use of the phrase 'This is not us'. We have a long history of colonial violence and white supremacy in this country, so obviously this is us but it also works as an aspirational statement. It would be great if this is not us in the future. We need to keep talking about the ways in which we're all complicit in a society that allowed this to take place. I've been guilty of staying silent at times, just because I hate conflict, and that isn't good enough."
7. Alice Snedden — TV comedy writer
"Making my web series Bad News, I discovered that New Zealand has a real undercurrent of xenophobia. The series aims to raise social issues in an entertaining way. Our episode on Māori language with Don Brash got a lot of 'feedback' but the one on refugees attracted even more online heat. We also did one on police apprehension rates being disproportionately high for brown people. To illustrate the point, I went to Aotea Square and blazed up while blasting Bob Marley but nothing happened."
8. Christine Fernyhough — author of Mid-Century Living: The Butterfly House Collection
"Māori imagery was used extensively in souvenirs last century because it added intrigue and value. It wasn't seen as appropriation then. English potteries in Stoke-on-Trent sent out caseloads round the Empire. Crown Lynn followed with its Wharetana range with ashtrays in the shape of tikis. Among the worst were bourbon bottles made in the shapes of Hone Heke, Hongi Hika and Te Rauparaha for a New Zealand Sports Foundation fundraiser in 1972. Would I want go back to last century? It was a time of keeping and treasuring as opposed to today's disposable world, but New Zealand is now the richer for being a multi-cultural country."
9. Tama Waipara — musician and festival director (Rongowhakaata)
"I found the University of Auckland's music school to be quite racist compared to the Manhattan School of Music. When I did my honours degree in Auckland there were constant references to my background as a point of definition. People told me I didn't 'look like' a clarinetist. Language was laced with racism in nuanced and discrete ways, but it was still very clearly that. Whereas New York was really diverse. In my end of year recital, I did a theatrical rendering of the legend of Maui fishing up the North Island with music. The teachers were completely open to that, unlike in Auckland."
10. Ahi Karunaharan — theatre director (Sri Lanka)
"No matter how much I contribute to this country, people still don't see me as a New Zealander. I just need to step outside and have someone yell at me from a car to remind me. There's a sense of being nomadic. An ongoing search for home. That longing is a tune I carry even in the most joyous of moments. It permeates my work. I've made some peace with that uncertainty. Often the roots of conflict come from a lack of understanding. Once we open up to the world beyond ourselves, we develop a sense of empathy that can start to drive our decision-making."
11. Phoebe Li — curated exhibition of photos of Chinese New Zealanders
"The Chinese Poll Tax was an important chapter of New Zealand's history. One always remembers the origin of a significant scar. However, living in pain and grief impedes healing and recovery. The poll tax was effectively lifted during WWII and the government officially apologised in 2002. As a historian, I'm optimistic about a brighter future for New Zealand. The fact this exhibition was presented at the Museum of Waitangi on Waitangi Day is hugely significant. It shows recognition and acceptance of the Chinese in New Zealand. Times have changed and people's attitudes have changed."
12. Moana Maniapoto Jackson — musician (Te Arawa, Tūwharetoa)
"Indigenous minorities worldwide are represented across all the negative statistics. You can't divorce that from colonisation. It's not because we're all rotten and bad. For generation after generation our land and our power have been taken and our traditional structures destabilised. That has a tangible impact. We need a commitment to a treaty relationship where power is genuinely shared. Values like manaakitanga, kaitiakitanga, rangatiratanga resonate increasingly with Pākehā who understand that you have to join the dots, think big picture and long term; that we're actually on the same side. It's exciting. Young people are good at envisaging different ways of doing things."