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We’re training and organising volunteers to tackle hate, one online conversation at a time

ActionStation believes in a compassionate, just, inclusive, diverse and thriving Aotearoa New Zealand. But unfortunately there are systemic barriers in place that are undermining this vision.

In January 2018, complaints of racism to the Human Rights Commission hit a five year high while complaints about racism in schools emerged from a Children’s Commissioner study involving 1,700 Kiwi children. According to research by Dr Raymond Nairn, most media coverage of Māori “reinforces racist attitudes”.

We decided to do something about this.

In September, we gathered a group of 17 amazing Tauiwi (non-Māori) and Pākehā volunteers at Innermost Gardens in Wellington to train and organise them to begin a two-month long journey into tackling hate, one online conversation at a time.

Mark Stevens comments: "How on earth do you equate learning te reo with mindfulness and calmness? The most violent, underachieving and criminal culture in the country!"  Volunteer comments: "Kia ora Mark, it’s evident we have differing opinions on this one. From my experience learning te reo Māori as a pākehā person, it has so far been a richly rewarding, insightful and spiritual experience. The Māori language is highly expressive and communicates deep understanding (in terms of nature, whakapapa, whakaaro and wairua) that English as a language simply doesn’t convey. I’m sorry that you don’t see the beauty of the reo, but we can surely agree to disagree."

The mission of the pilot project was to ask our volunteers to educate others about Te Tiriti o Waitangi and New Zealand history, defend the rights of Māori, challenge racial stereotypes and invite healing conversations between Māori and non-Māori online.

From these conversations, we will create resources for anyone, anywhere wanting to have courageous conversations online and over dinner tables.

If you would like to sign up for these resources or volunteer for the project as we roll it out in Auckland and Wellington in 2019, email [email protected]

And a huge thank you to our lovely volunteers and intern: Kate, Janieke, Talia, Kate, Amy, Zoe, Alanna, Carlene, Olliver, Abby, Ellie, Gemma, Paul, Esme, Mylene, Kay and Eddie.

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