COMMENT:

New Zealand is not racist. Unless of course you count all those times when it is.

The coronavirus outbreak has highlighted a number of things about the country: our border controls are pretty good, our pandemic response is top notch (compare the number of cases in New Zealand versus other countries) and our racism still runs strong.

We're a bit like that friend we all have who's proud to be a die-hard vegetarian, except for all the times he gets drunk and eats a chicken kebab.

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Don't believe me? Here are some national headlines from the past few days:

Hong Kong family say they were booted from Paihia Airbnb rental over coronavirus fears

Coronavirus: Patient heard demanding 'no Asian doctor' at Auckland Hospital

Calm urged as anti-Chinese sentiment felt in New Zealand

Coronavirus sparks racism: 'Send all the Chinese back to where they came from'

Coronavirus panic: Kiwi-Chinese woman told to cancel accommodation booking

Coronavirus: Big collapse of Chinese restaurants looms as customers stay away over virus fears

Famous Auckland Thai restaurant Mai Thai to close as CRL and coronavirus outbreak bites

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So, to sum up, one year on from the March 15 terror attack that saw everyone determined to put an end to racism and change their Facebook profile picture to include a sticker to prove we're definitely not even a little bit racist, they are us. Unless, of course, they're Asian.

You can't argue it's not about race but rather the fact they come from an area with an outbreak. If that was truly the truest of truths, Italian restaurants would be going the way of the yum cha scene in Auckland, and yet I haven't seen anyone swear off the lasagne.

The only thing spreading faster than coronavirus is the racism and xenophobia it has sparked. The cough can be treated, but these other symptoms are much bigger.

Your racism is showing and there is no vaccine for that.

Fear is the reason. It cannot be the excuse.

READ MORE:
'No Chinese allowed': Racism surges as coronavirus spreads
Coronavirus fears trigger anti-China racism around the world

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Last month, when Australia was getting ravaged by bush fires, we all rushed to send donations and offered whatever help we could.

I'm yet to see a Givealittle link for people affected in Wuhan.

I'm not suggesting we should, but I am implying there is an abysmal difference in how we treat two populations ravaged by a catastrophe not of their choosing.

Remember to keep calm, listen to the facts, adhere to the advice from the Ministry of Health - Manatū Hauora, and #GiveNothingToRacism.

Posted by New Zealand Human Rights Commission on Monday, 2 March 2020

New Zealand is a country of immigrants with a multicultural background. We should be better than this.

It is your obligation as a citizen to condemn any act of racism or xenophobia you witness. Report it, reject it. Don't just put a "they are us" sticker on your Facebook profile picture and then act like you've done your bit.

How we act in these circumstances is a valuable lesson for our children and the generations to follow.

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Remember the rules: wash your hands, cough into your elbow, eat some dumplings and stop being a damn racist.