Race Relations Commissioner Susan Devoy has called on New Zealanders to stand up against racist taunts and attacks, drawing an apparent contrast with President Donald Trump's America.
"The world is at a crossroads when it comes to race relations. The way we treat each other will decide what path New Zealand goes down," she said, marking Race Relations Day today.
She said people from ethnic minorities reported an increase in the number of personal racist attacks in recent times, "in step with events taking place overseas".
"What we do now matters and that's why we want people to be prepared to stand up for what they believe in. Whether we let our country become a place where abusing someone because of their race is normal or not, that part is up to us, all of us," she said.
"We want people to record attacks, to support people who are being attacked and to ensure attacks are reported.
"When we see yet another racist attack on the news we need to ask ourselves: is this us? Is this the kind of country we want to be? If the answer is no, then we need to do something.
"What we do today is our insurance policy for the future of our nation.
"This year we are focused on encouraging New Zealanders to answer these two questions: what do you stand for? What do you stand against?"
Race Relations Day marks the Sharpeville Massacre when 69 black South Africans, including 10 children, were shot to death by police for protesting against apartheid laws on March 21, 1960.
A series of events in provincial and urban communities to celebrate Race Relations Day are being held throughout this month.
The Human Rights Commission has produced a short video highlighting what people can do if they experience or witness a racist attack.