A Rotorua Lakes Council candidate is disgusted after being subjected to a racial slur while putting up hoardings.
Fisher Wang, 18, is one of 34 candidates vying for a spot on Rotorua Lakes Council.
Wang, who is in his first year out of school, has entered the contest because he wanted the age of local councillors to "better represent our community".
Wang was putting up two billboards on Pukehangi Rd on Sunday when someone in a car driving past yelled: "We're not voting for ******* Chinamen".
He told the Rotorua Daily Post his whole family was helping him put up the billboards and did a double take when they heard the slur.
"We thought did we just hear that correctly? Did they just say that?"
He said his family immigrated from Taiwan more than two decades ago and Wang was born in Rotorua.
Wang said other people had said similar things to him growing up but this was the first time he'd experienced it while campaigning.
"There are narrow-minded people who say that stuff but it's a shame there's people like that in our community but that's why I'm running. To broaden and make it [council] more diverse."
When asked what he would tell the people that yelled at him if he was face to face, Wang said he would tell them to open their minds and involve themselves in the multicultural community.
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"See for yourself first hand what good they do. A lot of immigrants have worked hard to get to where they are now."
In a post on Facebook about the incident Wang called the behaviour "disgusting" and "racist".
"[It] has no place in our society and I hope you realise that and grow up.
"Racism tears us apart, Diversity bonds us together."
Wang also posted a video about the incident and said it was disappointing to hear what was said.
"It's xenophobic, it's racist, it's sad that there are people like that in our community that have those views and I really hope they grow up, open up their mind and become better people because with that attitude, it's just not right."
The video was captioned: "Diversity is not something to be afraid of, it's something that can bond a community and really bring all types of people together.
"Racism, xenophobia, that's something that tears communities and places apart, it's not right and it should not have a place in our society. We are better than this."
Diversity is not something to be afraid of, it’s something that can bond a community and really bring all types of people together. Racism, xenophobia, that’s something that tears communities and places apart, it’s not right and it should not have a place in our society. We are better than this. #forOURfuture #FisherWang2019Posted by Fisher Wang for Rotorua Lakes Council 2019 on Saturday, 7 September 2019
Commenters on Wang's posts were supportive of the teen.
"Keep your head up high Fisher and use it as a way to show exactly what you mean and stand for," one person wrote.
"Regardless of where you come from, it's not what's important, but more importantly what you stand for and have to offer us all," another wrote.
Others said Wang was an inspiration and described him as determined and selfless.
Rotorua Multicultural Council president Margriet Theron said she was shocked by what had happened.
"It's awful. I'm all in favour of diversity on our council. We have a large number of immigrants who live here in Rotorua.
"The multicultural council works hard to make migrants feel welcome and supported. Although he's not an immigrant he was mistaken as one."
Theron believed the behaviour did not represent the community.
"If you just look back to last Wednesday when there was the bus crash , at the way the Chinese community literally dropped everything they were doing when I started phoning around to find some interpreters," Theron said.
"The way the community reacted after that, all the comments from the rest of the community ... That to me is a reflection of our community, not what you have described to me."
Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon, who was formerly Gisborne's mayor, said stories like Wang's were "concerning and disappointing".
"New Zealand is an open and welcoming country that celebrates diversity. All people should be able to participate in local body elections without fear for their safety or concern about being subjected to racist and xenophobic insults or behaviours," he said.
"I ask every voter and every leader participating in local body elections to support diversity and inclusion by giving nothing to racism and xenophobia. Challenge and reject racism and xenophobia when you see it. These behaviours have no place in New Zealand."