By REBECCA WALSH
Karuna Muthu says he is a quiet person.
But by Tuesday, he had had enough of politicians like Winston Peters acting like "moaning mothers-in-law" against immigrants.
So the Indian-born New Zealander confronted the NZ First leader on the steps of Parliament, shouting at him to "stop racism".
His stand attracted handshakes and "well done mate" comments on the street, phone calls and emails, and even an invitation to lunch with a group of elderly Roman Catholics - some of them supporters of Mr Peters.
The sole critic said Mr Muthu, a management consultant, should have given Mr Peters the chance to have his say.
"To put it in a nutshell, it looks like my protest has become a catalyst for a ground swell of support against racism, and using racism for political gain. That's really heartening," Mr Muthu said.
The Miramar man was one of about 12 people who met on Tuesday to oppose Mr Peters' recent claims that refugees are restricting New Zealanders' access to healthcare.
Now the National Party supporter is talking about a unity march from Kaitaia to the Bluff, though protesting is not something the 35-year-old father of two does regularly.
Mr Muthu and his wife, a doctor in general practice, brought their eldest daughter here from the town of Madurai, near Madras, in 1995. They saw New Zealand as progressive and wanted better opportunities.
"I thought this is a country I will be comfortable in and bring my children up in ... I am very loyal to New Zealand and grateful to New Zealand for giving me that opportunity."
But, after six years of "playing by the rules" and putting up with subtle and not-so subtle racism, Mr Muthu said he was sick of listening to politicians who exploited people's fear of change and the unknown for political gain.
He described Mr Peters as being like a "moaning mother-in-law" unhappy with the new members of her family.
"[He] has to accept we are the face and future of this country. We are here to stay and we are as much a part of this family as anyone else."
So, he serves on his daughter's school board of trustees and is a trustee on the 20:20 Communications Trust, a group working to bridge the digital gap between rich and poor.
"I'm trying to contribute in every way I can ... I'm not an activist. I'm a quiet person."
By REBECCA WALSH