February 15, 2017

Super diverse women talk about their lives

Published in the NZ Herald

To mark its launch, Super Diverse Women commissioned a survey of almost 300 New Zealanders to assess their experiences of discrimination and diversity. Here are a selection of (anonymous) quotes from their responses.


• I think white middle-class and upper-class New Zealand still believe in their dominant hegemony, both male and female. My issues are related to my workplace and subtle forms of racism which some of my liberal, benevolent Pakeha colleagues practise. And take it personally when they are called out on it.

• I’m definitely defined as meeting a diversity criteria, and there is such a thing as having too many brown faces – whereas there doesn’t seem to be an issue with having too many Pakeha faces on a project. Workplace banter includes casual racism I guess I’m just expected to dismiss.


• At times I feel invisible, but that is slowly changing (in Auckland anyway, in other parts of NZ I still get stared at as if I’m an alien). I am proud of my culture and feel able to celebrate that in most parts of Auckland, especially South Auckland. But I am confronted with “casual racism” almost daily.

• The work circles I’ve been in for a long time are generally male, pale and stale and so sometimes I’m treated as if I do not belong, seeing as I’m young-ish, female and brown. I have been treated differently (worse) than if I had been a man/white/older.

• Because I’m in a minority of brown/Pacific women who are qualified with leadership qualities, etc, I’ve been given opportunities which may not have been given to others. I was promoted early.


• By and large NZ is a friendly country. There are certain segments of the society that are casually racist towards Asians but it’s certainly not unique to NZ.

• There’s quite a bit of hostility against Chinese here. Particularly with the media (and even MPs) singling Chinese investors out as the source of the housing crisis. “Chinese investors” have been painted as the new villains that cause a lot of issues.

• Diversity is the new buzzword and it’s like “now it’s cool to be me”. Benefits – being completely comfortable in my skin, not afraid to stand up/speak my mind.


• It is a privilege to have been born and raised in NZ. This country allows one to be who they are and [there are] no restrictions on religion cultural activity.

• I’m equally comfortable amongst Indians as I am with Pakeha/Maori/Pacific/other “ethnic” New Zealanders and new migrants. But I often feel as though I fit everywhere and nowhere at the same time. Also, having an obviously Indian-sounding name can be a disadvantage when applying for rentals, etc.

• Women are more respected in NZ I feel. Most of the professionals or service providers acknowledge both men and women.