Racist Kiwis will always exist says Dame Susan Devoy


Racist New Zealanders will always exist. They will never be educated out of their racism, says Dame Susan Devoy.

“We will never be a fully multicultural society until we’ve fully adopted our bicultural foundations, and that’s the struggle” says Devoy, a former race relations commissioner.

In an interview with Grey Areas host Petra Bagust, Devoy said racism is “an intractable problem”.

It’s always going to be there, it’s never going to be eradicated.

Devoy said during her period as race relations commissioner between 2013 and 2018,75 percent of the complaints of racist behaviour she received “were all from the same demographic.

“They were old, not always men, but predominantly men, white – you couldn’t call them Pākehā because that offended them as well – and threatened …that something that was never theirs in the beginning was going to be taken away from them.

“I don’t think any education in the world is going to change that attitude, and I think that attitude has been slightly empowered … the minute they hear politicians using dog-whistle politics, they feel beholden in themselves to be able to say the things they only thought, but to say them out loud and to other people.

“Whatever I say is not going to change their point of view.

“The only thing that is going to change is that eventually they will pass away, and let’s hope the next generation haven’t inherited those beliefs that they have.”

What would Jesus do?

Devoy then told Bagust of an incident where she was accused of “abolishing” Christmas after working with Belong Aotearoa.

That group – then known as the Auckland Regional Migrants Society – was set up to support refugees and new arrivals settling into New Zealand.

A Christmas lunch was being held for the collective.

As most of the migrants invited to the lunch weren’t Christian and didn’t relate to the festival, a more inclusive seasonal message replaced “Merry Christmas”.

“Honestly, that escalated beyond actual belief – I got accused of wanting to ban Christmas and I got Christmas cards galore,” Devoy told Bagust.

She said as she herself is a Christian, she thought the backlash “rather ironic” due to the teaching of Jesus Christ.

“Someone sent me a box of faeces that was wrapped up in beautiful Christmas paper.

“The box didn’t offend me so much; it was the fact that someone had come down my driveway in the middle of the night and left it there,” Devoy said.

“What would Jesus do?

“I think he would want us all to celebrate in the manner that we do, and this is where I can’t quite understand the IQ of people sometimes.”


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