Stigmatising and Racialising COVID-19: Asian People’s Experience in New Zealand
The Asian community — the second largest non-European ethnic community in New Zealand — plays an important role in combatting the COVID-19 pandemic, evidenced by their active advocation for border control and mass masking. Despite the long history of racial discrimination against the Asian population, the Asian community has experienced certain degrees of racial discrimination associated with the stigmatisation as the cause of the COVID-19 outbreak in New Zealand. Based on data from a quantitative online survey with 402 valid responses within the Asian communities across New Zealand and the in-depth interviews with 19 Asian people in Auckland, New Zealand, this paper will illustrate Asian people’s experience of racial discrimination and stigmatisation during the pandemic in the country. The survey shows that since the outbreak of COVID-19, under a quarter of the participants reported experiencing discrimination, and a third reported knowing an immediate contact who had experienced discrimination. However, when looking beyond their immediate social circle, an even higher proportion reported noticing racism and stigmatisation through the traditional or social media due to COVID-19. Major variations of the degree of racial discrimination experienced are determined by three demographic variables: ethnicity, age, and region. The in-depth interviews largely echoed the survey findings and highlighted a strong correlation between the perceived racial discrimination among the local Asian community and the stigmatisation associated with COVID-19. These findings are important for improving the way we manage future pandemics and other disasters within the context of the UN Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.