Time to call out bigotry

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New Zealand’s Governor-General has described a visit to Queenstown as a chance to “breathe a bit of fresh air”, following the horror of the Christchurch terror attack.

Dame Patsy Reddy spent three days in Queenstown and Wanaka at the start of the week, visiting tourism outfits such as Shotover Jet and Camp Glenorchy, and taking in some of the Festival of Colour.

Sitting down with Mountain Scene for an exclusive interview, she says it’s time for people to call out discrimination.

Dame Patsy’s been closely involved in the aftermath of the attack, meeting with the families of victims and addressing the nation at the national memorial service in Christchurch last Friday.

“As Governor-General I’ve been doing whatever I can to support the victims, acknowledge them, but also help people in the process of grieving, and working out the way forward,” she says.

“There’s a long way to go, so engaging with those communities, all minorities, new NZers in particular, but recognising there are so many minorities in NZ who don’t feel like they’re part of our culture and I think it’s been a shock to a lot of people to realise that.”

While what happened can’t be undone, she says what we can do is “make sure minorities do not feel like they are separate and not understood, or not part of NZ society”.

“Just as it is with gender discrimination, it’s time to call it out.”

She says the live streaming aspect of the attack “made people around the world sit up”, and there’s a lot of discussion happening globally about regulating the internet.

“It’s a really challenging issue, though, because I do believe in free speech. I do believe in not over-regulating areas, because it’s very easy for the pendulum to swing too far one way or the other.

“But nonetheless, when it starts doing actual harm to people – even just the bullying online – I don’t think I’ll be protesting too much if there’s some effective way of regulating or filtering what is on our screens.”

daisy.hudson@scene.co.nz