Poll tax apology marks a new beginning 3/8

George Hawkins Ethnic Affairs


12 February 2001

Poll tax apology marks a new

Today's apology for the poll tax and related discrimination
against Chinese settlers in the late 1800s demonstrates the government's desire
to build lasting partnerships with Ethnic New Zealanders, said Ethnic Affairs
Minister George Hawkins.

"Chinese New Year is the oldest and most important festival to the Chinese
community. So it was the perfect opportunity for the Government to formally
apologise for discrimination that, while historical, is still very significant
for many Chinese New Zealanders.

"In my role as Minister for Ethnic Affairs I have met many industrious and
outstanding Chinese New Zealanders. And in the course of my visits to Chinese
communities around the country I have also met a lot of Chinese New Zealanders
still hurting from the discrimination by a government many years ago.

While the measures imposed were lawful at the time, today we regret that laws
like this were ever considered appropriate."We are not the first government to
have heard a lot about the poll tax and related discrimination.

But unlike the previous government, we have done something about it. That is
something to be proud of.

"I hope that today's apology marks the beginning of an even stronger
partnership between the government and Chinese New Zealanders, and makes Chinese
New Year 2002 one to remember," said Mr Hawkins.