Jacinda Ardern has pandered to racism too, says New Zealand activist

Joe Carolan, an activist with Love Aotearoa Hate Racism and member of Socialist Aotearoa, spoke about racism in New Zealand in the aftermath of the Christchurch massacre

After the horror in Christchurch establishment speakers, from the National Party and the Labour Party, put forward that we’re a wonderful multicultural country here, and that this was something that came from outside, that this was not us.

Amongst Maori people, Muslim people and migrant workers, something about that didn’t gel.

This country has a racist past, it was built on colonial occupation. Maori, who are 15 per cent of the population, are over 50 per cent of the prison population. Migrant workers are working in slavery here in every liquor store in Auckland, for $7 an hour. And because of this attack more and more stories are coming out from Muslim communities about the everyday Islamophobic attacks they’ve experienced, such as how they’re been insulted on public transport.

There’s not a party here, apart from the Greens, who are not guilty of supporting the wars in the Middle East that led to Islamophobia from the state and the demonisation of Muslim in the media.

In the recent election a number of parties said we need to slow down immigration, because it has led to pressure on transport and housing. This has led to rhetoric that “we need to house our own”.

The Labour Party named Chinese names of people who had bought new houses, implying that the Chinese were coming here and buying up all the houses.

Many people think of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern as very progressive. But her party is in coalition with a nationalist party called New Zealand First who have used open Islamophobia and racism about migrants. Winston Peters, who’s our Deputy Prime Minister, leads this party and gets between 5-10 per cent of the vote.

In 2017 Winston Peters told the Islamic communities and leaders to “clean house”. He was quoted as saying, “For New Zealand, we must avoid the same politically correct trap that has allowed communities apart to form… to accommodate the cultural practices and traditions of others.”

The Labour Party are in coalition with this party. A lot of people who voted for New Zealand First thought this politician was going to start evicting migrants and refugees and Muslims from their government houses.

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