Racial abuse high in Nelson - survey

More than 90 percent of non-Europeans in Nelson have experienced some form of racial abuse, a survey has found.

The survey was part of a report into racist incidents in the Nelson and Tasman area.

The report - Towards a Reporting System for Racist Incidents in Nelson/Tasman - Diverse Communities Speak - was launched at a function today.

It was attended by human rights commissioner Joris de Bres, the mayors of Nelson and Tasman and a wide range of community groups and organisations.

The survey was conducted in April and June, and 184 people of 48 ethnicities participated. It asked groups about being treated badly because of their ethnicity.

Some reports ranged from abuse directed at children as young as five, through to frequent comments shouted from cars.

The survey was conducted by a visiting lawyer on holiday from Ireland, Debbie Kohner.

She became involved after offering to do some voluntary work for the Nelson Multicultural Council.

The report was aimed at finding a type of reporting system that would work in the Nelson and Tasman area.

It was spurred by a Christchurch initiative called Report It - a web-based system for international students at tertiary institutions in Christchurch.

It was sad to hear that so many people had accepted racist abuse as simply being part of life in New Zealand, Ms Kohner said.

Police area commander Inspector Brian McGurk said police and community leaders were taking the report seriously.

"We will be working to ensure it is followed up with a reporting system that provides a voice and direct action for those suffering racial harassment or discrimination."

It would be for anyone who experienced racism, not just students, and would not just be web-based, Mr McGurk said.

It would include phone calls and possibly face to face reporting.

The region owed a debt of gratitude to Ms Kohner, he said.

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