Racism in New Zealand

Published 2011. Contact: James Liu


This project examined more than a thousand online responses to controversial news clips involving Paul Henry and Hone Harawira through YouTube and TVOne News.

Media coverage and public scrutiny of these two figures has been the most intense of any such cases in New Zealand over the proceeding few years. The Broadcasting Standards Authority received more than 1,500 complaints against Henry and 814 against Hawawira.


It appears that very little is set in stone in New Zealand either in terms what is acceptable public talk in race issues, whether they involve bicultural issues or Asians. Everything is negotiable on a case-by-case basis, and what can be amusing or tolerable in a private company leads to highly contentious debate in the public arena that has little hope of resolution.

A full 20% of the TVOne comments involved obscene insults, whereas a majority of the YouTube comments involved obscenity, and many exchanges involved the kind of passion that would have resulted in violence if the encounter had been face-to-face.

You can access the presentation "Racism in New Zealand through the Lenses of Controversy provided by Social Media on Paul Henry and Hone Harawira" here.

You can watch the Racism Online presentations here.