Racist NZ: Auckland woman told ‘go back to China’ after asking people not to feed birds

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.”


As work on the goldfields became harder to find, anti-Chinese prejudice resurfaced. Some spoke of a conspiracy to overrun the colony with ‘Coolies’ who were ‘ignorant, slavish, and treacherous’. Canada and Australia had imposed entry taxes on Chinese immigrants and New Zealand followed suit via the Chinese Immigrants Act of 1881. A poll tax of £10 (equivalent to $1720 today) was introduced and ships arriving in New Zealand were restricted to one Chinese passenger per 10 tons of cargo. In 1896 this ratio was reduced to one passenger per 200 tons of cargo, and the poll tax was raised to £100 ($19,200). In the late 19th and early 20th centuries organisations such as the Anti-Chinese Association, the Anti-Chinese League, the Anti-Asiatic League and the White New Zealand League emerged to oppose Chinese immigration.

From 1907 all arriving Chinese were required to sit an English reading test, and from 1908 Chinese who wished to leave the country temporarily needed re-entry permits, which were thumb-printed. Permanent residency was denied from 1926 and Chinese were not eligible for the old-age pension until 1936. Although other changes made it largely irrelevant from the 1920s, the poll tax legislation was not repealed until 1944. In 2002 the New Zealand government officially apologised to the Chinese community for the suffering caused by the poll tax.