Beneficiaries have overtaken Asians as the group New
Zealanders consider to be the most discriminated against.
A UMR Research survey of 750 people, commissioned by the
Human Rights Commission has found 74 per cent of people think
beneficiaries are facing discrimination.
Asians, who have ranked at the top of the list since at least
2003, were second at 72 per cent.
Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres said it was a
change, but nothing to celebrate.
"Asian-New Zealanders have been at the top of this list every
year. That's been a fairly consistent piece of data.
"But it gives me no joy to see one replace another if they're
at that level.
"I'm against discrimination full-stop - whether it's against
beneficiaries, Asians or anyone else, we would hope that we
can continue to reduce it."
Welfare reforms could have raised the profile of
beneficiaries, Mr de Bres said.
The high scores on the survey were at least an
acknowledgement that there was a problem, he said.
"We know from the perceptions of discrimination survey that
most New Zealanders can see that. Maybe it's a good fact that
people are aware of it. The challenge is still to deal with
It was too early to call a trend, but the perception of
discrimination against Asian people had fallen 2 per cent.
"Chinese, Japanese, Southeast Asian and Indian cultures and
festivals have been made more open to the general public.
There's a lot of integrative work to celebrate diversity.
"This is at least a sign that the kind of prejudice that
Asian people have experienced in larger numbers in recent
years is on the wane."
But the survey was not necessarily showing the whole picture.
There were other groups facing systemic discrimination, he
"This is about personal discrimination, and systemic
discrimination is harder to pin down - and may be more widely
experienced by Maori and Pacific Island people."
Beneficiary Advocacy Federation spokeswoman Kay Brereton said
the discrimination against beneficiaries was severe - they
could be left out of social groups and feel potential
employers would not take them seriously.
"Beneficiaries are facing quite significant discrimination -
they have been attacked, really, from all sides," Ms Brereton
"I'm proud of New Zealand to have recognised that
The Human Rights Commission received 573 complaints about
unlawful discrimination, incitement and harassment on the
grounds of race, colour, ethnicity or national origin in
A Statistics NZ report in 2012 found 6 per cent of
respondents had faced racial discrimination in the previous
- Michael Dickison, New Zealand Herald