What is life like for Black people in New Zealand

What is life like for Black people in New Zealand? In the states, our day to day life is lived under a constant worry and reality of being treated differently because of our skin color and even killed openly in the streets because of it. I need to escape for the sake of my sanity, but am I being naive to think that it’s different anywhere else?

Thanks for your thoughts.

Black person here! :laughing: So I’ve been in NZ for a little over 2.5yrs. I live in a smallish town, but not super small. I love it here. I feel safe here. I do not experience racism anywhere near what I experienced in the US. I have said so many times that here I can move through the world like a regular human being. I am just a person. No one is looking at me assuming I am something I am not before I get to even speak. It is refreshing. It is peaceful. It is a freedom I have never known and I am never going back to what I lived before.

As said above, there is racism here. But in regards to black people, Kiwis don’t really know the lies and stereotypes, so there aren’t a lot of presumptions. I have encountered people who, you can tell, are shocked that I am their clinician, but there’s no hatred and vitriol behind their eyes. In the US, so many of my patients just gave me the hardest time. They were awful. Kiwis are curious and friendly. None of them have continued to be standoffish after chatting with me. None. Not a single one in 2.5yrs.

I did not expect there to be no racism because that’s all I’ve ever known. But I was pleasantly surprised. Moving here turned out to be the best decision I’ve ever made for myself.

It’s not perfect. But it is soooooooooooooo much better. I hope you can join us soon!

NZ has race problems too, but I like to think we have a greater awareness of this here than in many places and take it seriously, you’ll find most NZers care about making this better. Most main centres here are quite multicultural and welcome people from all over the place.

Love, health and safety to you and your loved ones. One of my motivations for moving to NZ from the US is this deep shame, embarrassment, and frustration at what so many aspects of American culture have devolved into (or always were). I never want my 2 year old to experience an active shooter drill or witness the kind of horrific hatred and violence we see daily from Minnesota to Georgia and everywhere else.

You all make me want to cry. Even the few comments that acknowledges the racism that exists in NZ because in no way do the descriptions compare to what we deal with here. I am realistic enough to know that there’s no 100% way to avoid all racism especially against black people. Colonialism and the slave trade hit almost every end of this earth and there will always be remnants of that. What I need is to not have a internal meltdown every time I see a police officer and fear taking a hike while black.

I’ve been doing so much research on NZ and read almost every single post posted here for the past year. I’m so glad to still be excited about the possibility of moving here.

I’m an academic and will likely be looking for a post doc there once I finish my PhD in Nursing in 3 years. I can’t wait to get out of here.

Here is my opinion as a 47 yr old kiwi who has always lived here and has a reasonable amount of life experience and knowledge of ingrained kiwi attitudes , and would regard themselves as quite far down on the racism scale.
( in that I don’t want to be, try not to be and try to change ideas or preconceptions that I think I might have to get to know cultures better so that I understand them, rather than fear them)

  1. New Zealand has racism. No one here will deny that. It’s a country with a history of colonialism and Maori suffered and still suffer the long reaching affects of that today. The difference here - from other similar nations with white colonial histories and indigenous populations, is that we’re actively trying to address it.
  2. It’s fairly safe to state- I think- that most racism in NZ is coming from older folks with entrenched colonialist attitudes or older folks bringing racism here with them. For instance, my parents were really racist. It was embarrassing, but I - in my accumulated learning and influences, was taught this was wrong and am FAR less so. My kids? Almost completely devoid of racism. They range from 13-23 and would be HORRIFIED if someone they were around as racist or said something racist or witnessed racism. It’s like it is now culturally inappropriate for them to be racist. Example: I watched ‘ the colour purple’ the other day with my 13 yr old daughter. Several times I had to explain to her why the white people were behaving like they were towards the black people, because she lacked the life experience to understand what was happening. Which I thought was pretty awesome.
    ( obviously this is just my experience, and there are still racist assholes everywhere)
  3. NZ is now an extremely multicultural society. So many people from so many cultures now live here, or visit here regularly that we are used to most everyone. And weirdly, if we encounter someone new or different- it’s greeted with an “ ooooooo, you’re from where? How exciting!” Rather than a “ewww, disgusting, go back to your own country.”
    This could well be an effect of the fact that NZ runs on tourism, we get a constant stream of people through here from different places.
  4. The fish bowl effect. Living in NZ is weird. It’s like we’re stuck down here at the end of the world and no one pays us much attention and we do a lot of looking out at other countries and observing their cultures, behaviours, problems, successes etc. most of our influences are an international mix of all English speaking countries. We listen to music from other places, we watch tv and film from other places, we read books from other places, we absorb all of it, collate all of it in our mind files. We look out at the world, and take it all in. ( honestly, there’s not a lot happening here. There’s stuff happening, but it’s pretty mundane. We have our own film, tv and literature and music, which is all excellent, but there’s not that much of it)
    I’m guessing the world general knowledge of an average kiwi my age is astounding compared to the world knowledge of an average American or British person of the same age, simply because of the way kiwis look out to the world and drink the whole thing in. We travel quite a bit- for the same reasons.
  5. Respect for effort. I think we might have a sort of secret thought/ idea that if you make it here- either to visit, which is hard enough, or to live, then you deserve some mad respect. NZ was founded ( yes, colonised) by some pretty extreme people. Pioneer spirit. Recently, as well. We’re a young nation. There is still a hangover of that , we are a DIY nation of no nonsense pioneers, we recognise effort and respect it. You make it here, you’re embraced as ‘ one of the team’ cause it’s hard work getting here, and we all know it.
  6. The African American reaction. This could just be me- but I expect it’s not. ( and this is not at all intended as racist) We don’t see a lot of African Americans here. I have seen maybe 2? In real life? And it could have been 1… there are plenty of Africans in Auckland, quite a big migrant/ refugee population from Ethiopia and a few other African countries, so you see ‘black’ people around, but they’re not Americans and vastly culturally different folk. I remember my actual reaction to seeing this African American was actually excitement. I thought it was cool. My initial gut reaction was not “ omg they’re going to rob me call the police”, it was more like “ omg , you’re awesome, let’s be new best friends ”
    So I expect your novelty factor to be high, and that combined with our accepting attitude of all peoples to our nation, our forward moving national desire to eradicate racism, our general greater knowledge of the struggles of cultures and issues surrounding racism, that you would find living here to be pretty acceptable.
    Hope this insight helps