AN INVESTIGATION has been launched by the police into whether anti-Asian leaflets being stuffed into letterboxes constitutes an offence under human rights legislation.
The material, which publicises a group called Right Wing Resistance, is being distributed in parts of East Auckland.
The flyers call on people to “stop the Asian invasion” and “join the resistance”.
It gives a cellphone number and email address to contact.
The organisation claims to represent a “unified resistance movement against mass immigration, the dilution of our European culture and pride”, among other things, and is looking to recruit like-minded people.
One Pakuranga resident who received the flyer was shocked by its nature.
She cannot imagine how her 92-year-old mother, who has been in New Zealand for 70 years, would have felt if she had found it.
“I would hate for Asian people to have this in their letterbox and think ‘what’s this country turned into’,” says Karen, who does not want her surname published.
The flyer arrived in her street about 10 days ago, and was not included with other junk mail.
Karen contacted former Manukau City councillor Dick Quax.
He lives in Sunnyhill Crescent, Pakuranga, and has also received one of the leaflets in his letterbox, as has his neighbour.
Mr Quax says he’s never seen anything like it in his 20 years in East Auckland.
“It’s disgraceful and despicable,” he says. “Words cannot describe my loathing for these people.”
He advises people who receive one in their letterbox to “do what it deserves and get rid of it”.
“It’s quite clearly hate speech,” says Mr Quax. “There are laws against hate mail and that’s why I use such strong language in return.
“These people [who distributed the flyers] may say they have a right to free speech.
“But if you abuse that right by using it for hateful purposes you deserve all the criticism you get.”
Karen says the language used in the flyer is what she found offensive. “It’s a bit on the nose,” she says. “The words ‘join the resistance’ got my attention. I felt quite disturbed by it.
“If there is going to be a cult of these people, then it’s a bit of a concern for Asians who live here.
“This is the first time it has appeared in my letterbox and I don’t think it’s a prank.
“I take it seriously and I’m concerned for the folk who live around here, but I don’t want it to grow out of proportion as well.”
Howick Local Board member Wayne Huang says the flyers present a “challenging issue”, but warns people not to overreact.
“New Zealand, now more than ever in its history, is a multicultural country and more tolerant than it has ever been,” he says. “One solution is to promote understanding and awareness of different cultures and ethnicities, and review what we can do to make improvements.”
Mr Huang has helped to set up an ethnic affairs portfolio on the local board and hopes this will increase harmony in the community.
The former deputy chairman of Botany Community Board says his message to Asian people who receive the flyer at home is to not be scared.
“We have got people to stand by you and support you,” he says.
“No matter if you have spent one year or 10 years here, you make a contribution and you are a New Zealander.”
Mr Huang stresses: “This flyer does not represent mainstream thinking.”
The Human Rights Act 1993 says people may be in breach of the law if they have “intent to excite hostility or ill-will against – or bring into contempt or ridicule – any group of persons in New Zealand on the ground of their colour, race, or ethnic or national origins of that group of persons”.
Such offences are punishable by a prison term of up to three months, or a fine up to $7000.
A breach of the law could be if someone “publishes or distributes written matter, or broadcasts by means of radio or television words, which are threatening, abusive, or insulting”.
has brought the distribution of the leaflet to the attention of Counties Manukau East Police, who are now investigating whether it constitutes an offence and who is behind its distribution.
Inspector Jim Searle, area commander, says he can’t remember seeing anything similar in the area.
“This is objectionable to most people in the community,” he says. “New Zealand is widely regarded as a friendly and welcoming society. Most people find the lunatic fringe to be objectionable.
“My experience of Howick and Pakuranga, and the other communities we work with, is that they are pretty tolerant of racial and ethnic diversity.”