“Unacceptable” levels of abuse towards Pacific people have been highlighted in a Human Rights Commission report. A nationwide survey of more than 2500 people, conducted in May and June 2022 by Kantar Public on behalf of Te Kāhui Tika Tangata, the Human Rights Commission, covered many aspects of abuse, including sexual harassment, racial harassment, and bullying.


The major complaint among Pacific people was of racial harassment, with 62 per cent of Pacific people surveyed saying they believed it had happened to them. 

It led to issues such as mental and physical health impacts, feelings of anxiety, depression and trouble eating and sleeping. 

The 80-page document reported the most common racial harassment behaviours were telling racist jokes, derogatory comments about race, mocking accents, being treated worse because of race and racial slurs. 

Of the 12 racial harassment behaviours identified by the report, Pacific workers, sadly, led the way with the most reported issues in ten of the fields and in an 11th – insisting only English was the only language to be spoken at work – they were almost level with people of Asian heritage. 

Worryingly, the report showed that around 30 per cent of people across the survey impacted by harassment or bullying don’t tell anyone about it and that figure rises to 60 per cent for migrant workers and less than a quarter of those affected made a formal complaint. 

Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner, Saunoamaali’i Karanina Sumeo, said it was unacceptable that abuse was occurring and was so widespread in workplaces. 

Sumeo said the stories they heard were “heart-breaking.” 

“We are essentially failing our people,” she said. 

“Workers shouldn’t have to fear for their mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing while out earning a living. 

“Dignity and basic rights ... must be protected, respected, and remedied. Employers must ensure that staff do not abuse power and influence over colleagues." 

She called on the Government, businesses, and unions to urgently collaborate to better support those suffering. 

“(Workers) have a right to safe healthy work environments and deserve better protection than what is afforded to them now,” she said.


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Pasefika Proud Pathways for Change 2019-2023  
Pacific families and communities are safe, resilient and enjoy wellbeing.   

Download from Pasefika Proud Resources | Pasefika Proud Pathways for Change 2019-2023   

Wellbeing outcome for Pacific families = Personal security and safety  

Pacific families have:  

  • Reduced tolerance for, experience of and use of violence   
  • Strategies to help manage conflict, anger, disappointment  
  • Access to safe places in times of danger  
  • Access to effective, responsive services  
  • An increased sense of personal safety