An Open Letter to all New Zealanders from Dame Susan Devoy, Race Relations Commissioner

Guest post

Today we start a campaign that’s about us. In fact, we’re calling it That’s Us because it’s about the kind of people we want to be, as well as the kind of country we want our kids growing up in. That’s Us is our first nationwide, anti-racism campaign that asks Kiwis to start sharing our own stories about racism, intolerance and hatred: but to also share our hopes for the future.

Every year around 400 people make formal complaints to us about racism they’ve faced, they come from all over the country and from a wide range of circumstances. However, we know the overwhelming majority of people never complain or go public when a car drives past and the people in it scream a racist obscenity, when the woman registering students at university smiles at every other student but the brown ones or your son is called racist names as he runs down the rugby field.  These are those “casual” or “quiet” racist encounters that never feel casual or quiet when you and your family are the ones being humiliated. What we embark on today is a platform for people to share these stories with other New Zealanders.

Many people don’t think racial intolerance or racism is a problem: often because they do not experience it themselves.  By raising the voices of those New Zealanders who face racial intolerance in their everyday life: we’re hoping other New Zealanders will take the time to listen. We suspect many of us don’t realise when something we say is unfair or biased: but we would if someone pointed it out to us. 

We’ve always had a problem with racial intolerance in New Zealand – Maori New Zealanders know it is not new.

But what’s changed is we’ve also become incredibly diverse, one of the most ethnically diverse nations on earth in less than a generation. Racial intolerance is on the rise overseas and closer to home, we’ve become very diverse in a short period of time, while overt racism is not widespread yet: we are confident New Zealanders are ready to take part in meaningful conversations that will talk about the realities of racism and what each of us can do about it.

New Zealand has become one of the mos ethnically diverse nations on earth in less than a generation.

Not long ago we publicly called out Neo Nazi fascists who wanted to march against child abuse. Many Kiwis joined us when we argued that the symbols of a regime that murdered 1.5 million children have no place at a march against child abuse.  That’s not us.  We suspect the overwhelming majority of Kiwis do not share those views but if the rest of us are unable to talk openly about racism then the loudest, angriest voices are often the only ones we hear.

We just need to look around the world right now to see what happens when racial intolerance and racism is normalised.  We think New Zealanders are better than that and we hope you do too.  From today we are hoping to hear your stories at  We want to hear what happened to you and how you felt, and how you feel now. You may have been a victim or a bystander or a defender or perhaps you were even an abuser. It’s all good because if we’re going to better understand racism then we need to know what it is.

Our national identity isn’t just about a flag. Our national identity is about who we are as people and how we treat each other on our streets, on our rugby fields, in our communities.

Since being appointed Race Relations Commissioner I’ve met some of the most incredible, courageous New Zealanders who make me so proud to be a Kiwi. I’ve also met – or encountered – people who send me hate mail, abuse and threats. The important thing is that we talk about what kind of people we are. What kind of things we stand for and what kind of things we stand against.

Is that us?  #ThatsUs


– Dame Susan Devoy, Race Relations Commissioner

  • Seriously?

    I think one of the things that illustrates race relations in NZ is the name of our national rugby team, the All Blacks.

    To an american ear, that name seems strange. To many of them the first thing they think of is race. They are programmed to seek racial difference, and look for it everywhere.

    To us, well its the colour of their uniform you American doofuses! We are not expecting to break everything down in terms of race.

    We do okay here. Despite the best efforts of some to convince us otherwise.

    • Wheninrome

      The All whites soccer team just to add balance.

      • Eiselmann

        Before the World Cup in South Africa, great lengths were made to put the ‘All Whites’ name in context against the ‘All Blacks’ name to avoid perceived issues around racism….just shows you how sensitive people are to the word white.

    • BigNose

      This just highlights the stupidity of people and their desire to follow a preconceived agenda. The French rugby team are known as ‘Les Bleus’ because of their uniform colour. But mention black or white – even thought people are brown or pink – and the idiots squeeze out of the woodwork.

  • Sailor Sam

    So she is just creating a situation, because she asks a very loaded question.
    Just designed to muster support for her job and the RRC.
    Not worth answering.
    And I am ethnic, a foreigner in this beautiful country.

  • Mikhail Coleman

    I went over there and filed my story of the time me and my at the time 10 year old son were racially abused by a group of maori kids for being white and walking on “their turf”. I will watch with interest whether it gets published.

    • MaryLou

      Yep. I was told to enjoy my business whilst it lasted because the land it was on would soon be someone elses. Not immediately threatening in my case, but no doubt about the racism. It’s there.

  • D.Dave

    During rugby, this year, a person of a different ethnicity called one of the lads a”hillbilly honkey”. Chances of getting anything done was zip,nil, nothing. The offender was targeted rather vigorously at times during the game, and comment was made about the strong nature of some tackles, but justice was served. So it seems racism, in general is a one way street, otherwise it is considered a flippant remark, or gesture. Once again I fly my flag as a member of the most persecuted group, I am a white, middle aged male, and I get grief from everyone because ‘it’ is my fault, what ever ‘it’ is…..

    • jaundiced

      Give up D.D. because as a privilaged white male, your opinion doesn’t count.

      • D.Dave

        Who said privileged, we have lived hand to mouth most of our married life, so we can be debt free when we retire. I don’t think I understand ‘privileged”. Since when was paying tax, without any comeback from the Govt, paying off a house through hard work, not having holidays or eating out considered to be privilege? I missed my chance to be a moaning, bludging victim, who was a perpetual client of WINZ. And we are a better family because of it. Everything we have has come from the sweat of our brows, and 2 average weekly wage packets. No privilege there, just a fair amount of pride……

        • jaundiced

          Nope. Being white means you’re privileged. And if you disagree, you’re obviously racist as well.

  • veridian

    Devoy – The Racist-Finder General. I imagine their Department slogan is, “If we look hard enough we will find racists!”

    • Vutekno

      “Racist-Finder General” I like that a lot reminds me of that great Blackadder episode featuring “Witchsmeller Pursuivant”. An episode with some relevance here.

      It explains to me why Devoid has been so quiet for the past few months. It must of hurt her head dreaming this missive up and then writing it.

      The efforts that some will go to in an effort to become relevant is staggering!

    • Shalice

      That’s how she keeps her job – if there is no racism, or any -ism what would she do? It’s a shame that that seems more important to her than the resulting divisiveness for a whole nation.

      • veridian

        Yes these types of agencies cause division and resentment. There seems to be an ‘agenda’ at work right across the Anglosphere countries. We know what that agenda is.

    • MyHovercraftIsFullOfEels

      1656: “witches in the wardrobe!”
      1956 “commies in the closet!”
      2016 “bigots in the bedroom!”

  • LabTested

    I have mixed race kids and I would consider this to be part of a normal NZ family. I read the article from SD above and could not help thinking that surely – the most racist thing we have seen recently is her attacking hard working average male Kiwis, just because they are white & like to celebrate Christmas.

    Susan, you are a disgrace & its time for you to go.

  • nellie

    There’s no looking on the bright side of life in NZ in this exercise is there.

    And as with Mikhail below I doubt that my story as an English immigrant moving to Mangere in the 70’s just as Gordon Drydens’ punch a pom a day took off would be highlighted. Geez those brown boys loved it.

    • Eddie

      If you don’t submit your story it won’t be highlighted. I suggest the more stories of racism against whites that are sent in, the better the chances of our squash playing FIANZ member in the commission waking up to some home truths.

    • Observer

      Submit it. All it takes for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.

  • johcar

    I agree with Morgan Freeman in this video on the subject of racism.

    When the interviewer asks how racism can be stopped, he simply replies: “Stop talking about it”

    • Boondecker

      Don Lemon is the worst race baiter in TV ‘journalism’ today. He is also inept at picking his guests to purport his message. It was entertaining to see Morgan Freeman put him in a corner so well that in the end he was agreeing with him in the longer version of that interview.

      [EDIT: added words to last sentence when I realised the clip didn’t contain the earlier confrontation]

    • KatB

      I’ve always liked Morgan as an actor, now I can see the guy has common sense and poise on and off the screen.

  • Eddie

    I felt racism when Dame Susan Fatimah Devoid spoke of “pakiha males” in a demeaning way. I’ll be making that submission to the stories. May others now also feel empowered to speak out against casual racism.

  • BR

    What a useless and wasteful bureaucracy the Race Relations Commission is. Costing people money and making speeches, and not very good speeches, are their only achievements.


  • Huia

    The most racially discriminated against group are white males, that is a fact.
    I was turned down for a job at the Rotorua Hospital once, because my tribal affiliations (what there are of them) are from Taranaki who apparently don’t play well with Arawa. Didn’t matter that I was the most qualified, but long standing stoneage prejudices came into play.
    Now that, is tribal racism.
    This latest Devoy outburst reminds me of that old saying:
    I am a proud Black said the Black man
    I am a proud Asian said the Asian man
    I am a proud Polynesian said the Polynesian man
    I am a proud White man said the Racist.
    People like Devoy fan the flames of racism.

    • biscuit barrel

      Does seem that way. Devoys campaign Thats Us’ “asks Kiwis to start sharing our own stories about racism, intolerance and hatred: ”
      The results will be carefully ‘curated ‘ of course to produce the desired outcome.

    • Cadwallader

      The most vulnerable minority is the human individual. Forget about race or religion, as unfettered individuals we are all truly alone. The need to become a part of a group for whatever reason (or lack of reasoning) destroys our personal sovereignty. It is personal sovereignty which guides and strengthens our ability to lead meaningful and prosperous lives. Ms Devoy has apparently forgotten she once performed alone as an aspiring individual in her chosen sport. Now she clings to the collective notion that if people share a skin colouring or a religion they must now act cohesively. What a dim-wit she has become!

    • honeybadger

      Thank you Huia, for saying what most people don’t…
      .’I am a proud Black said the Black man
      I am a proud Asian said the Asian man
      I am a proud Polynesian said the Polynesian man
      I am a proud White man said the Racist.
      People like Devoy fan the flames of racism.’
      I am a (cringe) white Kiwi and get more racial abuse from Samoans than I have ever had from any other race, but who gets called a racist if I answer back in the same way?

    • Kevin

      After finishing uni I got told off by some guy from the NZ Employment service branch I was in for applying for some job working in a cafeteria. Apparently I was “privileged” because I was white.

      • Observer

        That’s appalling. Leftists don’t think through the racial animosity their ‘privilege’ concept endangers.

    • Patriot

      I also lost out on a job once through Waikato Hospital. I knew my main competitor, so knew she was Maori. I don’t believe those hiring knew I knew her. I had a lot more experience and higher qualifications but didn’t get the job. When I was phoned and told, I asked for feedback on why so that i could learn from it. i got some vague comments regarding the person chosen already having some contacts with the other organisations this role would need to work with. It was very vague and i got the definite feeling I had put them on the spot. After all, when in a new role its not hard to introduce yourself and make those connections. A couple of people at the hospital who knew both of us were surprised about the choice related to her lack of experience and encouraged me to appeal. However, there didn’t seem much point as my skin colour wasn’t going to change and my ethnicity obviously wasn’t what they were looking for,

      • Observer

        Some govt departments have goals that a certain number of their staff are Maori. On the one hand, this seems reasonable to aim to have a degree of representativeness across an organisation. On the other hand, the idea that ethnicity should be a factor in hiring is anathema to individual rights to be free from discrimination. Flipped around it means that some white candidates will face racial discrimination to achieve arbitrary racial bean counting objectives.

    • exactchange

      I used to work with a tech guy who helped out a large Taranaki Maori group with some IT stuff. They advertised a position and got a lot of CVs. He was amazed when most of them were glanced at and binned. Literally binned. When he asked, he was told not cuzzies.

  • iera

    The only good thing about the website is white lettering against a highlight in the background, so the title says “Stand up to something-ism”.
    One thing about colours, Susan, is you can’t read white on white.

  • oldmanNZ

    “but the brown ones..”, “– Maori New Zealanders know it is not new.”

    Is she somewhat implying the brown ones are the only one getting abuse?

    I get racial abuse from mostly the brown ones.

    I actually dont really care what they call me., as long as i can abuse them back.,
    I call my indian freinds curry,
    My white friends, a “white ghost” in chinese.

    She can start with labour, for inciting that its asians causing the housing crisis.

  • H0p3

    At a Weymouth Bakery in South Auckland a ‘brown’ woman told her son “don’t let that White c#nt push in front of you!” Good role model huh?

    • Observer

      Don’t hold your breath expecting Dame Susan to treat whites as being a group worthy of her protection.

  • lyall

    So i take it this campaign is aimed at ‘white people’ – All the white people on Paul Henry this morning, who were falling over themselves to proclaim their ties with something more indigenous than themselves, seemed to agree that the problem was that white people didn’t see the racism problem because they were ‘white’ (a word said with utter disgust by one woman who was of course married to a ‘Pacific Islander’) But i would have though a white person is more likely to know a white racist than a non white person is?
    So why doesn’t the dame just be honest, instead of spouting an anecdote about a ‘white person’ not smiling at brown people (which could actually be a misguided attempt at cultural sensitivity, some brown people like to be taken seriously), just say it like it is – “if you are ‘white’ any prejudice you may have needs to be well hidden as it may make a ‘non white’ feel uncomfortable, however you can continue to be as racist as you like to white people no matter how uncomfortable some may feel, hell it works for me and i’m the dame of race relations”

  • Duchess of Pork

    Not necessary Dame Susan, we know who we are. We know our background, we know from whence we have come, we know what we value and why, we honour those values and out traditions; many men have fought and died in foreign lands to protect them and women harnessed the wheels of production in their absence. We recognise where we have erred in the past and created injustice to the native people and we have sought to redress the balance; we have atoned for that injustice though many still seek to magnify the fruits of that atonement.

    What some of us will not stand for Dame Susan is the increase in numbers of people that claim our shelter and protection from their home wars and violence but will not integrate with us and our values. They cry racism; they dispel myths about phobias while seeking to compel us to adopt their values. They are supremacist in view and sly about intentions. Our media have capitulated to the lure of their exotic difference. We need someone who will recognise and call out their racism and supremacism for what it is and the challenge it presents. As the Race Relations Commissioner that person should be you Dame Susan. Please step up.

  • Tiger

    Sounds like she is trying to justify her existence. Why is she mentioning “neo-fascists” without mentioning “jihadists”? Sounds like her hot air is very one sided.
    Got me thinking this morning (a hard task on a Friday), that Susan is of the generation of apologists, those white folk who feel guilty about their place in the world. They forget, that what they perceive as privilege was built up on the struggles and torments of their predecessors and not to be given away lightly. Merkel is of the same ilk.

  • axeman

    Yep I’m sick and tied and over all this racism. Why don’t we just Pakeha seats in parliament just like the Maori ones, why don’t we have just Pakeha scholarships, and special criteria for University to ensure that there are enough Pakeha can go. Special welfare set up just like Whanu Ora,
    When I went to school there was no such thing as racism that I saw. I just had class mates Maori & Chinese, & Europeans and we had no idea or thought that one was better than the other. They didn’t get treated any better or worse at school. The school rules were applied equally.
    I think the racism has come about more through the Treaty settlement process, in regards to Maori. Don’t get me wrong I am in favour for historical injustices to be put right and in that regard I think the Key National Govt has done an amazing job. This is only right.
    But it seems to me as soon as you promote say “one law for all” its racism. As soon as you don’t agree with a particular race within NZ and you are white then you are Redneck. You see this is what happens when you apply the law differently depending on colour and race, someone always feels they are being hard done by and when they can’t justify it, they do it by calling it racist.

    • oldmanNZ

      Just read her letter again,
      “because if we’re going to better understand racism then we need to know what it is……”

      They dont know what racism is? Or they going to expand it to hurty feelings.

      Too many doctors are white, racism
      Too many brown in rugby, racism
      Too many Maori in jail, racism.

      People going to submit how they got hurty feeling and she will define it as racism

    • PersonOfColor:WHITE

      If we do not separate out people by their identities, race, gender, whatever, then we could not claim the identity group are oppressed…..anti-marxist thinking!

  • cows4me

    What a load of horse manure. Man I’m so over these white liberal fools and their guilt trips if anything this unadulterated horse manure makes me want to be a racist because I’m fed up to the gills with idiots telling me what to think and do . The bloody woman can go and boil her head.

  • Woody

    Open Letter in reply

    Dear Susan
    If I wanted help with understanding how to make point scoring squash shots (I don’t) I might consider asking you.
    If I wanted advice an any other matters including racism, I wouldn’t even consider asking you as your understanding seems to be somewhat less than most new entrants at school so please don’t go holding your breath waiting for my call.
    Not Racist.

  • iera

    Dame Susan writes – “We suspect many of us don’t realise when something we say is unfair or biased: but we would if someone pointed it out to us.”

    And so I point out to Dame Susan, her very next sentence is a racist generalization –
    “We’ve always had a problem with racial intolerance in New Zealand – Maori New Zealanders know it is not new.”

    She, as Race Relations Commissioner, should correct herself.

    • Nige.

      We have an alternative government which we call the opposition.

      We have a police complaints authority to deal with when the police get it wrong.

      We have ombudsmen for all labour of government departments.

      We have a broadcasting standards authority for broadcasting complaints.

      Who is keeping track of the race relations commission?

      No one as far as I can see.

  • Herbert Charles

    Susan Devoy projecting her left-wing SJW ideology, preoccupied with the notions of privilege and oppression on to the rest of NZ is kinda funny. Imagined hurty feelings on behalf of somebody else based on race is hilarious.
    So Susan Devoy actually gets paid to write stuff like this? Race relations commissioner position needs to be made obsolete. We need to stop waisting money that could be spent on …say… the homelessness tsunami?

  • Andrew Gibson

    I think the white liberal guilt thing is, in itself, born of a racist feeling of superiority over non-whites. The assumption that all white people are doing better that others is a clear generalization.
    And I’m wondering how she defines racism; is the fact that a tiny minority of pakeha people take Te Reo lessons another sign of a racist society?

  • Brewtique

    Let me tell a story: a few years ago I visited my old home town in Kaikohe where I went to primary school in the ‘fifties, a great place in those days. I stopped the car opposite our little home and out came a brown NZer to see who his chained up menacing dog was snarling at; owner and dog were similar so I decided best to immediately leave and drove down the street, then turned and came back, thought why shouldn’t I park outside so did so. Out came the glaring occupant again, so I jumped out, introduced myself, and explained why I was looking at his house. That was okay, but conversation was “limited”, so I stared to mention old neighbours’ names. “next door were the S……gs (a Maori family) and on the other side the A…ls(another Maori family).” These names drew blanks, but I continued: “Down the road were the R…ss and across the road were the Whites” ……he immediately cut in: “Huh, no WHITES around here now, only BLACKS.” And he meant it ! , and definitely was not being funny. It was time to leave.

  • waldopepper

    “Many Kiwis joined us when we argued that the symbols of a regime that murdered 1.5 million children have no place at a march against child abuse”. agreed susan, noble sentiment, although im not sure how you can bag the neo nazis for their crimes, while embracing islam who are throwing gays off buildings, enslaving women, blowing up women and children, hacking off heads, wishing death on the infidels and advocating the death of all jews. 29000 terror attacks by islam since 911. shall i get out the calculator and work out how many women and children are on that list.

  • phronesis

    It’s interesting that the one group that it’s OK to vilify is Neo Nazi Fascists. I’m not a big fan of their genocidal tendencies towards the Jews (and others) but as they are no worse than the Muslim’s in that regard I presume we are not allowed to condemn them for that. Which leaves the Fascism part.

    Is this what Devoy is really concerned about? Is this really about individuals or is this political?

    Personally I would prefer Fascism over Marxism if they were my only choices. The ARSE backwards crowd were promoting their think tank on the radio this morning and commented that there were no left wing parties in NZ politics. NO left wing parties! I somehow doubt a group that situated itself as far to the right of mainstream politics in NZ would get such a kind reception.

  • sandalwood789

    “…the symbols of a regime that murdered 1.5 million children have no place at a march against child abuse.”

    Oh, but you’re perfectly ok with the symbols of an ideology (Islam) that has murdered around 270 million people (and counting), Susan.
    Where is your consistency?

    Why is it that a regime that murders 1.5 million children “horrifies” you but an ideology that has murdered 270 million people is ignored (or even *praised*) by you?
    Murder is murder, is it not?
    What’s more, the murders by Islam continue *every day*.

    Given your lack of a stand against Islam, I am proud to say that I will not be participating in your useless waste-of-time campaign. Educate yourself about Islam and forget trying to see a problem where none exists.

    – sandalwood789

  • Charlie

    The only racist in our exended family is a Maori. He hates “Ragheads”, “Chows”, “Wogs”, “Coconuts”, “Snobby Pakehas” etc. etc. and yet he gets along fine with all if us, consisting of about 7 different races. I’m not racist, but a Maori scumbag is still a scumbag, just the same as a Pakeha scumbag or a scumbag of any race. Just because people are non whites it doesn’t mean that they can’t be scumbags.

  • Intrigued

    This “” website is a shameless attempt to make her office relevant by drumming up anecdotes of racism. She can’t have enough work to do. What’s she going to do with all these stories? What is the point?

    I could rattle off all the stories of my life over the past 49 years where because I’ve been the white girl with freckles I’ve been bullied and taunted and discriminated against by Maori because I’m a white NZer. I bet she’s not interested in those stories. And let’s face it. What’s the point of this exercise?

    Is it to create a nation of victims of racism so we can all have a collective whinge and moan-fest to wallow in self pity for some past grievances? It’s not like that will solve anything. It’s a negative focus and no good will come of it.

    • sandalwood789

      The sooner her office is abolished and she’s signing up for the dole, the better. The same goes for the useless Human Rights Commission, Women’s Affairs and Te Puni Kokiri (aka Maori Affairs if I remember correctly). All of them are money-holes.

  • sandalwood789

    What Susan reminds me of is a bad mechanic who says “hey, there’s a scratch on your car” while the good mechanic says “um – I think your car should have an engine.”

    She *completely* ignores one of the most dangerous issues facing the country – Muslim immigration. She goes straight for the molehill instead of the mountain.

  • Gladwin

    Neo Nazi fascists?

    Does this person know what a Nazi really is?

    I am completely against child abuse too but we didn’t fight “Neo Nazi Fascists” but mainly people who don’t know any better.

    What a foolish person she is!

    • Nige.

      To lower herself to Goodwin’s is a very very sad indictment for a person in her position.

      If she had any clue what she was doing she would argue based on relative facts and simply not need to go there.

      She is an amateur.