NZ’s superdiversity challenging the legal system

Another Auckland woman has found her job prospects limited because she wears a Muslim headscarf.

Fatima Abdulkarem, 19, has turned down a job trial at a juice bar at Auckland Airport over what she felt was discriminatory and racist treatment during her job interview.

Her story followed that of Fatima Mohammadi, 20, who was turned away from an interview when she refused to agree to take off her hijab on the job.

Because of New Zealand’s rapidly growing diversity issues like these are going to increase in the future.

More than 25 per cent of New Zealanders were born born overseas.

In Auckland

  • Almost 50 per cent of the population is Maori, Asian and Pasifika
  • 44 per cent were not born in New Zealand
  • There are over 200 ethnicities, and 160 languages spoken.

A superdiverse population is a population with 100 or more ethnicities.

New Zealand is now closer to 200.

Lawyer Mai Chen has been researching the effect of New Zealand’s superdiversity.

Chen recommends a formal multi-cultural policy so that implications of an ethnically diverse society on law and policy can be analysed.

Her 400 page Superdiverisity Stocktake, officially launched last week, looks at a range of legal issues that may arise from a superdiverse population.

It makes 78 recommendations for business and public agencies from 58 key findings.

“Superdiversity will bring more legal challenges for breaches of the right to be free from discrimination and the rights of minorities to language culture and religion under the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 and the Human Rights Act 1993,” she says.

“It’s not about race, it’s not just about equality and fairness, it’s a much bigger issue than that,” Chen told Australasian Lawyer.

“It has significant impacts on our economy, on how business is done, on government and on law.”

Taiwan-born Chen is the managing partner law firm of Chen Palmer.

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