Indian IT professional smells racism in New Zealand

Wellington, Jan 3 (IANS) An Indian IT professional in New Zealand alleged that he faced racism on New Year’s Eve at a bar, a media report said.

Sandesh Gopal, 30, a software project manager from Bangalore, said a bouncer stopped him and his friend from entering a bar at Auckland’s Viaduct Harbour on New Year’s Eve without giving a proper reason, the New Zealand Herald reported Friday.
Gopal alleged that he and his friend were singled out and asked to show identity proofs after which the bouncer told them that they could not enter the bar.
“Others, white customers, were let in, and the bouncer just couldn’t tell us why he stopped us,” Gopal was quoted as saying.
“We just wanted to celebrate the New Year like everyone else, and this just spoiled the mood for us,” he said.
Gopal said since coming here in 2011, he has had many sour experiences.
Gopal, who has travelled to Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Malaysia and Singapore for work, said he feels New Zealand is “most racist”.
“The racism here is not overt, but it’s the small things that make us feel that maybe we are not welcome,” he added.
According to the report, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination last March pointed out New Zealand’s “persistent discrimination against migrants, particularly of Asian origin”.
Discrimination against any religion or ethnicity is illegal under the Human Rights Act.
A study by sociologist Paul Spoonley found that Indian immigrants arrived in the country as “well-educated and skilled newcomers” but were less accepted by employers than those from Britain and South Africa, the report said.
About 40 percent of those who participated in the study said they had experienced bigotry in the streets.
However, research by the Asia New Zealand Foundation showed a marked increase in positivity towards Asian people in New Zealand in the last 15 years.
Just 32 percent thought Asian immigration was positive in 1997, but the figure rose to 55 percent in 2011.
The report explained: “The main reason for New Zealanders’ change in perceptions in the 15 years was more contact with Asians – there were more of them around – and this helped to reduce some of the prejudice that had previously coloured many New Zealanders’ attitudes.”