Is racism legal in New Zealand?

Question Details: In what situations or contexts is racism illegal in New Zealand, if at all?

Filed under Human Rights and Discrimination | 5135 View(s)

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Answers by Lawyers

Community Law Wellington & Hutt Valley

You are free to have any thoughts or beliefs about race. This is not illegal. However, it is illegal to discriminate against someone on the basis of race in a wide range of areas of public life. Landlords, shopkeepers and employers are some of the many people who must not discriminate.

If you believe you have been discriminated against, you can contact the Human Rights Commission ( or the Employment Relations Authority in relation to employment matters. Alternatively you could raise the matter with the person or organisation who has discriminated against you.

Racial harassment and the incitement of racial disharmony are also unlawful under the Human Rights Act 1993. The incitement of racial disharmony is an offence punishable by up to 3 months in prison or a fine by up to $7000.

Also, people who commit crimes motivated by hostility based on race can get higher sentences than people who commit the same crime without racist motivations.

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