New Zealand launches “Racism is No Joke” campaign

New Zealand Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon has launched the “Racism is No Joke” campaign to raise awareness of racism against Chinese and other Asian New Zealanders.

“Since COVID-19, we’ve seen an increase in racism against Chinese and other Asian New Zealanders…This campaign will address online racism that often manifests itself in anti-Asian memes and jokes,” said Foon in a statement this week.

“These are completely unacceptable, and I know that most New Zealanders don’t find them funny either. We want to raise awareness of the impact this racism is having on Chinese and Asian communities and encourage people to stop sharing Asian ‘jokes’,” Foon said.

A total of 95 complaints were received by New Zealand’s Human Rights Commission from Asian people between September 2019 and 30 June 2020. Of these, 53 were COVID-19 related and 42 were not, according to the commission.

A three-fold increase has been seen in the number of race-related complaints received from Asian people by the Asian Family Services since February 2020, the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The “Racism is No Joke” campaign includes a series of short videos featuring comedian, Filipino New Zealander James Roque, discussing racist jokes, and why they are not ok. The videos are being released from on the RACISM IS NO JOKE Facebook page.

The campaign also sets up a community focused Facebook and Wechat group to share resources about racism with members of Asian communities, and to offer a forum for sharing experiences.

Minister for Ethnic Communities Jenny Salesa said there was no shortage of negative content about people of Chinese and Asian descent online.

“Jokes lead to name calling which can lead to open hostility toward Asian people – this is not OK. RACISM IS NO JOKE pushes back against Asian or Chinese ‘jokes’, and says clearly that they belong in the past,” said Salesa.

The minister said some people have acted as though racism against Chinese and Asian people can be justified because of COVID-19.

“We ask people not to share racist or xenophobic content or be racist towards anyone because of COVID-19. Ethnic diversity benefits all of us and singling out specific groups of people and treating them poorly is hurtful and offensive,” she said.


For further enquiries about RACISM IS NO JOKE please contact or phone 022 010 0313.