There are renewed calls for stronger hate crime laws after an Auckland man was viciously beaten in a racially motivated attack on the weekend.
The man, who is of Chinese descent, was trying to do his grocery shopping at Pak’nSave Albany on Sunday morning when a man began to harass him.
The father was visiting the store to do some back-to-school shopping when he noticed a man staring at him. As he walked past he thought he had bumped the man so turned to apologise, but the other man began verbally harassing him.
The man’s daughter, who wished to remain anonymous, told NZ Herald the man started swearing at her dad and telling him to “go back to where you’re from”.
She said her dad was born in China but has lived in New Zealand for two decades and was extremely confused by the comments.
He tried to ask the man what he had done but the confrontation turned physical and he was punched in the face and kicked in the head, she said.
“He was trying to shield himself and ended up on the floor. The other man kept on kicking him and hitting him,” she told NZ Herald.
The man then began throwing eggs at her dad before fleeing. A witness called the police and waited with him until they arrived.
Police told Newshub they received reports of an assault at the Don McKinnon Drive supermarket on Sunday morning.
“A man was reported to have been verbally abusive towards two people and one of them was assaulted,” a spokesperson said.
“Thankfully the victim was not seriously injured by this assault but was understandably shaken by this incident.
“While we are in the very early stages of our inquiries, we are keeping an open mind into the motivation of this assault, including if it was racially motivated.”
Police asked anyone who witnessed the incident to contact them on 105.
Foodstuffs NZ head of public relations Emma Wooster told Newshub the supermarket’s duty manager stepped in to help the man after he was attacked.
Wooster said the attack was “shocking” and unacceptable.
“This is a shocking incident and a reminder that abuse or violence of any kind is not acceptable and will absolutely not be tolerated on our premises.
“We would like to thank the team at Pak’nSave Albany and the customer who called the police for their swift and effective action.”
The attack has prompted renewed calls from Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon for stronger hate crime laws.
Foon told NZ Herald this was particularly important because the COVID-19 pandemic had seen a “remarkable spike” in racism directed towards Asian Kiwis.
“That has quietened down, but it’s always been there,” Foon told NZ Herald.
“And that is one of the primary reasons we really encourage the Government to actually move on the strengthening of the legislation on hate crime.”
Last year the Government released a proposal to make major changes to the laws governing hate speech in New Zealand, including the creation of a new criminal offence with harsher penalties and the protection of more minority groups.