11 May 2011

Anti-Asian leaflets investigated

10:32 pm on 11 May 2011

Police are investigating whether a letter box drop of anti-Asian leaflets in Auckland and Christchurch constitutes a criminal offence.

The Right Wing Resistance, led by former National Front president Kyle Chapman, has been distributing brochures stating: 'Stop the Asian invasion, join the resistance.'

Some leaflets have been distributed in areas with high Asian populations.

The Human Rights Commission says the group is protected by freedom of speech.

Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres says that while it is despicable, not much can legally be done about the leaflets. Mr de Bres says he has received complaints from Christchurch and the Auckland suburbs of Northcote and Pakuranga.

National manager of Maori, Pacific and Ethnic Services Superintendent Wally Haumaha has asked his team to look at other aspects of law and work with Crown Law to see what possible offences have been committed.

Mr Haumaha says the Asian community have a right to live in peace, without fear.

On Wednesday, Kyle Chapman told Morning Report the leaflet is part of a recruitment campaign and not designed to threaten Asian recipients. He says he is not a racist, but a right-wing political activist.

However, Manying Ip, of the School of Asian Studies at the University of Auckland, says the leaflets are stirring up hatred.

Professor Ip says similar groups have a history of trying to recruit people during difficult economic times and it is unfair to target people in a racial minority and the group's views are dragging New Zealand back to the 19th century.

The Office of Ethnic Affairs says the distribution of the leaflets is a clear attempt to cause fear among Asian people living peacefully in New Zealand.

Director Mervin Singham says groups such as this should stop putting their own political interests first and consider the needs of the whole of New Zealand society and the economy.

Massey University sociologist Paul Spoonley told Morning Report the group is small and mainly made up of people from skinhead gangs or associated political movements and the leaflet drop is an attempt to stir publicity in an election year.