New Zealand’s Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon expressed his disappointment and concern over the nine-year-old Canadian-Fiji-Indian girl’s racial abuse in a park on Sunday, January 10 in Dunedin.

Reported by the victim’s mother Zahra Mohammed, the girl was racially abused and had dog faeces smeared on her face by a group of six boys of similar age group at Navy Park in Dunedin. The incident was immediately reported by the girl to her mother, who was pushing her other young child on a swing in the park. Ms Zahra confronted the boys, two of whom were of around 12-years-old who denied doing the act although one of them had dog faeces on his hand.

Informed about the incident by reports in the media, Race Relations Commissioner denounced the act as disturbing and assured his commitment to addressing the issue of bullying and foster empathy amongst young through schools.

“I am very disturbed by reports of a young Fijian-Indian girl in Dunedin being racially harassed and abused on the weekend,” Mr Foon told The Indian Weekender.

“No child, parent or family should feel unsafe, especially in a children’s park. My heart goes out to this young girl and her family, and the majority of this community who I know will condemn this racist attack also.

“I am encouraged by the comments that members of the community have made in support of the family and against racism. Every community should work together to counter racism and ensure their parks and spaces are safe and inclusive for all children.

“Every child has the right to a safe community, whether in public and private spaces and schools,” Mr Foon added.

Mr Foon said his team would address bullying in schools and teach respect, empathy and belongingness amongst the young students.

“I note that reports indicate that the boys who were harassed her are of primary and intermediate school age. I am committed, along with my fellow Human Rights Commissioners, to addressing bullying in schools and encouraging schools to foster empathy and belonging among all their students.

“As always, I offer my support to this family and the community in Dunedin,” Mr Foon said.