New Zealand lawmaker in hot water after race joke

2014-08-11 11:06
New Zealand First party leader Winston Peters. (Brendon O'Hagan, AFP)

New Zealand First party leader Winston Peters. (Brendon O'Hagan, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Wellington - A high-profile New Zealand lawmaker was accused of racism on Monday after making what he called a "joke" at the expense of Asians as he railed against Chinese investment in the country's farming sector.

New Zealand First party leader Winston Peters told his campaign launch in Auckland on Sunday that he wanted to tighten restrictions on foreign ownership, telling the audience: "As they say in Beijing, two Wongs don't make a white".

The comment was labelled "disappointing and shameful" by New Zealand's Race Relations Commissioner Susan Devoy, while the ACT Party accused Peters of inciting hatred against Chinese ahead of a general election on 20 September.

"Mr Peters may think it is funny to tell weak racist jokes but it is not funny to New Zealand's Chinese community", ACT Deputy Leader Kenneth Wang said.

"Every time Mr Peters stirs up anti-Chinese feeling he gives racists in the community encouragement to attack Chinese. I have reports of Chinese women being abused in the street [and] young louts going into Chinese shops to abuse shop keepers."

Peters, a long-standing anti-immigration campaigner who in the past has warned about New Zealand becoming an "Asian colony", said his critics were lacking a sense of humour and claimed he was originally told the joke by a Chinese man in Beijing.

'Just don't get it'

"The reality is a Chinese guy thought it was a joke, he told me that and I thought it was funny, so did my colleagues", he said.

"There's nothing racist about it, what we don't need is a few journalists who decide that they're going to be the Nazi politically-correct police of this country."

Peters served as deputy prime minister from 1996 to 1998 under the conservative National-led coalition government, and foreign minister from 2005 to 2008 under a coalition led by centre-left Labour Party.

Prime Minister John Key said the New Zealand First leader was being deliberately provocative in an attempt to gain attention ahead of the election.

"It's like all of those stunts isn't it, he's doing that because he wants you to be outraged, because he wants to get you playing it on breakfast TV because he wants to get his message through," he told TVNZ.

The line "two Wongs don't make a white" was originally attributed to former Australian Prime Minister Arthur Calwell, a strong supporter of the "White Australia" immigration policy adopted by New Zealand's neighbour, which lasted until the 1970s.

Devoy said people who made such comments in the 21st century "just don't get it".

"Politicians making fun of an entire race of people isn't new but it's disappointing and shameful New Zealand political leaders are still doing it in 2014", she said.

"We're better than this and our political leaders need to realise that."

Read more on:    john key  |  new zealand  |  china

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.