National Action Plan Against Racism

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What is a national action plan against racism?

Racism is global and entrenched. Around the world, countries are creating practical plans to end racism. The New Zealand Government has committed to developing a national action plan against racism that reflects the history, challenges, and aspirations of Aotearoa New Zealand.

The aim of the action plan is to progressively eliminate racism in all forms. The Minister of Justice is responsible for this important work. The National Iwi Chairs Forum - a collective of Iwi leaders from Aotearoa New Zealand - are partnering with the Government in the creation of the plan.

Eliminating racism will take time and determination. The plan will set concrete steps for the Government to take, and provide guidance for communities, businesses and institutions to support their own solutions.

Have your say

Community voices will play a crucial role in informing the priorities and actions of a draft plan. Between April and October 2022, the Ministry of Justice and National Iwi Chairs Forum invite communities to get involved in a workshop to help you have your say. We will take that draft to the wider public before finalising it.

We can support you to run your own workshop within your community in some cases.

We want to hear about your:

Experiences – What are your stories? How has racism impacted you, your family or your community?
Learning – What did you learn from those experiences? What needs to change?
Action – What things could government do? What could members of your whānau and community do to eliminate racism?

Ways to get involved:

  1. Workshops of around 5-8 people from your organisation or community are planned. Due to COVID-19, they will mostly be online and will run for 90 minutes. After the workshop, we will provide opportunities to meet again if you would like, so you can share more ideas and clarify your views.
  2. We can support you to run your own workshop within your community in some cases.
  3. Online wānanga will be held to seek views from national organisations and peak bodies that have an interest in the plan.
  4. Share your views on the above questions to us via email. Your responses can come in any format or style.

Contact us at if you want to have your say.

What do we mean by racism?

Aotearoa New Zealand has no agreed definition of racism. The Human Rights Commission describes racism as “any individual action, or institutional practice backed by institutional power, which subordinates or negatively affects people because of their ethnicity.” This means racism is any belief in the superiority of one group over another, or any behaviour or system that overpowers or negatively impacts people because of their ethnicity or the colour of their skin.

There are many forms of racism. It can be hidden or obvious, conscious or unconscious. It occurs:

Within people

Individual racism is negative stereotypes, attitudes or beliefs held by a person that are based on the idea of one group being superior to another. These ideas can be about one’s own ethnic group or about other groups.


  • A belief that a person from a particular community is lazy.
  • A belief that a person of colour is violent.

Between people

Interpersonal racism is harmful beliefs, attitudes, or behaviour directed towards people because of their ethnicity or the colour of their skin. This can be unconscious or intentional, and include biases, discrimination, verbal and physical attacks, as well as both overt and subtle ways of making people feel they are outsiders.


  • Verbal abuse, mockery, or jokes about a person’s ethnicity.
  • Writing hateful messages outside a place of congregation or targeting groups or individuals online.
  • Demanding that a person speaks English.
  • Using aggression or physical force against someone because of their ethnicity or faith.
  • The terrorist attack on Christchurch masjidain.

Across organisations and society

Institutional or structural racism is when government, organisations, education, and wider society use laws, policies and practices that create unfair advantage for some groups, and disadvantage for others. It builds over time and though not always intentional, drives inequality and disempowerment.


  • Media reports that stereotype ethnic groups.
  • Certain ethnic groups being imprisoned disproportionately more and for longer compared with the majority.
  • Treating people applying for jobs and promotions, and setting their pay rates, in a way that values those with European-centred knowledge, experience and qualifications more highly.
  • Only teaching European-centred histories, leaving indigenous and ethnic experiences invisible and silent.

Why do we need a national action plan against racism?

It is a fundamental human right to be treated fairly, equally, with respect and to be free from racial discrimination. These rights are protected, supported, and reinforced by:

  • Te Tiriti o Waitangi
  • The Human Rights Act 1993

and also by New Zealand’s commitments through the:

  • United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
  • Convention of the Elimination of All forms of Racial Discrimination.

Racism affects individuals, whānau and families, entire communities, and the sort of society we are.

Racism is harmful in any form, and shapes people’s everyday lives: their work, schooling, sense of belonging and mental and physical wellbeing.

The harm can be worse for those who experience discrimination on several fronts such as sex, age, religion, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity.

Across different surveys and studies, it is indigenous, ethnic and groups of colour who report experiencing racism the most. The reports and experiences tell us that racism is deeply ingrained in society, and it can be difficult to identify.

How is the national action plan being developed?

The Ministry of Justice is responsible for developing the plan, working closely with the National Iwi Chairs Forum, government agencies and community groups.

The process used to develop the plan will focus on ensuring everyone’s voices are heard, especially those who experience racism. It will acknowledge the history of racism that Māori have experienced and our responsibilities under Te Tiriti o Waitangi. It will involve:

  • Building relationships with communities and organisations to identity the path forward together.
  • Drawing from engagement done by the Human Rights Commission in 2021, research about racism, and insights from across communities and cultures.
  • Two stages of public engagement. The first stage is focused engagement with Māori, Pacific and ethnic communities, those who also experience other discrimination, and groups that represent a cross-section of society. Nationwide consultation on the draft plan will follow.
  • Work with government agencies to identify and develop practical actions to progressively eliminate racism.
  • Oversight from a joint steering committee comprised of Tangata Whenua, Tauiwi (non-Māori) and senior official leaders.
  • Joint governance by the Minister of Justice and Minister of Māori-Crown Relations: Te Arawhiti.

What if I change my mind or have more to say?

You can change your mind at any time about giving your views. If you either don’t want us to record or share your views, or if there is more information you want to tell us, please contact

As part of the rules in the Privacy Act 2020, you also have the right to access and request to correct your personal information. Feel free to read our full privacy statement.

We may need to release your feedback under the Official Information Act

We may need to release your feedback after an Official Information Act 1982 (OIA) request. Your personal details, including your name and address, can be withheld under the OIA. Other information provided by you (your opinions and experiences) will be anonymised and will not be able to be attributed to you personally. This information may be released if requested.

Where can I go for help?

We will do our best to create a safe space during the sessions, but they may bring up difficult emotions. You can contact any of the following numbers free of charge for support.

  • Free call or text 1737 – speak with a counsellor or peer support worker, or to get information about other support
  • Free call 0800 543 354 (0800 LIFELINE) or free text 4357 (HELP) – speak with a qualified counsellor or highly trained volunteer
  • Free call 0800 211 211 – help finding services in your area
  • – an online tool for young people

Our privacy statement

If you are participating in a workshop, the Ministry of Justice and the National Iwi Chairs Forum collect the following personal information from you:

  • Name
  • Contact details
  • Your experiences with racism
  • Your views on racism.

We collect your name and contact details to organise your attendance at workshops. Information on your experiences and views will be anonymised throughout the process and will not be linked to you. The purpose of collecting this information is to identify key priorities for the national action plan against racism.

Staff from other organisations (Ministry for Pacific Peoples, Ministry for Ethnic Communities, Inclusive Aotearoa Collective, Multicultural New Zealand, ChangeMakers Resettlement Forum, and Dioscuri) may facilitate and take notes in the workshops, but they will not store any identifying personal information about you.

A summary of the action points that we get from all of the workshops will be shared with a joint steering committee and will be made publicly available. Information that is shared with the steering committee or made publicly available will be anonymised.

Providing information and taking part in workshops is voluntary. We may follow up with you to take in future workshops or other engagements. You can change your mind about taking part at any time. If you don’t want to take part or you don’t want to be contacted again, please contact us at

You have the right to ask for a copy of any personal information we hold about you, and to ask for it to be corrected if you think it is wrong. If you’d like to ask for a copy of your information, or to have it corrected, please email us.

Further information

If you have any other questions, please contact