A new study on racism faced by Asians living in New Zealand highlighted the effects of hate on their health and wellbeing.
The report, titled “Asian New Zealanders’ experiences of racism during the COVID-19 pandemic and its association with life satisfaction,” was authored by researchers at the University of Auckland and published in the New Zealand Medical Journal on Friday.
Funded by the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Korea and Korean Studies Promotion Service of the Academy of Korean Studies, the study describes the hate incidents experienced by Asian Kiwis and their effect on life satisfaction during the first 18 months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In New Zealand and globally, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted racism in our society, including targeted anti-Asian hatred,” lead author Rebekah Jaung told Xinhua.
Upon reviewing 1,452 responses to an online survey in 2021, the researchers concluded that 40 percent of Asian New Zealanders have experienced racial discrimination and anti-Asian hate since the pandemic began in 2020.
The research team noted that victims of such incidents were “more likely to experience increased anxiety, depressive symptoms and decreased wellbeing.”
Survey respondents revealed that the most common forms of racism they experienced were verbal attacks and microaggressions, often in public places, social media and mainstream media.
Based on the findings, those most prone to racial abuse are migrants, residents of rural communities and students. The data indicated that almost 50 percent of all respondents who were high school and tertiary students reported experiencing racism during the pandemic.
The study’s authors argued that authorities should ensure the wellbeing of Asian communities by focusing on actively reducing and eliminating racism.
“Considering the context of our study, this may mean understanding the interplay between national crises and increased explicit racism, actively countering emerging racist narratives as part of an emergency health response and embedding cultural safety, equity and anti-racism upon the foundation of Te Tiriti o Waitangi into these policies,” the authors noted.
Recent incidents of anti-Asian hate in New Zealand that have made headlines include verbal attacks and public vandalism.
In July, a TikTok user from New Zealand named Nilani uploaded a video in which she lamented through tears that white men often refer to her as “undesirable” for being a “brown girl.” She charged that racially insensitive comments strip her of her humanity, noting that she will often be looked at as nothing more than her physical appearance.
In September, Asian politicians running for a seat in Auckland, New Zealand — Howick Ward Councilor Paul Young, first-time candidate Vinson Yu and Auckland mayoral candidate Robert Hu — had their campaign billboards vandalized.
“I wanted to run for the elections because I want to represent and better serve the Asian community, this deserves respect,” Yu told Morning Report. “We are fairly participating in the elections.”