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We Asked Asian Students How Safe They Feel in Auckland

A series of brutal, seemingly racially-motivated attacks have left six Asian students injured over the past few weeks.

Albert Park in Central Auckland. Photo via. All other photos by the author.

Six young Asian students have been left battered after a recent spate of unprovoked attacks and aggravated robberies around Auckland, mostly in broad daylight.

Police have made arrests in two of the cases, but believe there is a group of teenagers terrorising the area around Auckland University campus—notably Albert Park. In response to the brutal attacks the Auckland University Students' Association is holding a safety audit and Reclaim the Park rally in Albert Park at 7 PM Friday.

We went out to ask Asian students just how safe they feel around Auckland.

Sixuan, 19.

VICE: Do you ever feel unsafe in Auckland?
Sixuan: All the time. I feel so unsafe, I'm terrified.

Really?
Yeah! Two accidents in one week? It's crazy. My family are hearing about the stories from the newspaper and they're calling me from China. My father wants me to go back to China. I have to keep telling them New Zealand is good.

Have you ever changed your route or avoided particularly areas?
I live close to Albert Park, so I no longer go to uni to study in the evenings because I have to cross it.

Why do you think Asian people are being targeted?
Maybe we look rich? Because we've travelled from overseas. Asians also look like you can attack them, they look small.

This sucks, I'm so sorry.
It's all right! It just feels like the police aren't even doing anything and that's the scariest part.

Jenny and Miley, 19

Why do you think these attacks are happening now, all of a sudden?
Jenny: I don't know. It's just happening so often this year. Last week I had a test in the evening and I had to choose a specific route where I thought I'd stay safe.

So it's nothing about being scared as woman, it's really just race specific?
No, nothing to do with being a woman. Maybe they think Asians are rich and soft and that we won't fight back. It's like sure, you can steal my things but why do you have to punch me?

Miley: Also we can't fight back, because we're international and that might hurt our visas. If we were local we could fight back, but we risk being sent home.

Even if it's self-defence?
We can't, because what if we actually hurt them? They're the ones that are from New Zealand and that's the law. We would have to go back to China. The law protects them more than it does us.

Joy, Yabon, Niko, Daisy, Runnan. All aged 18 to 23 (they didn't want their photos taken, obviously).

Have you guys heard about the assaults on Asian students?
Joy: Yeah we all heard about it. We've started changing our actions to stay safe.

You have? In what ways?
Well, when I walked around I used to text or play on my phone, but now I'm looking all around like I'm super alert. We also go home early, before it gets dark. But it's happening in the daytime as well. It's especially bad around Albert Park.

This is the worst.
Runnan: I think it's because we don't look strong? They think Asians carry cash as well, and that we're the only race that does this. We're scared that if we fight back, we'll get sent home.

Kevin, 21

Hi Kevin, why do you think Asian students are being targeted?
Kevin: maybe because they just look like rich international students.

I wouldn't have thought that but it's what everyone has said.
Totally, I've never felt unsafe. They attackers are supposed to be Maori or Pasifika, but I'm a Kiwi Asian so I have Maori and Pacific Island friends and I know they're not like that. I walk through Albert Park as well, I know I shouldn't but oh well.

So you feel safer because you grew up here?
Exactly. I'm good mates with so many Maori and Pacific Islanders but they're the best people I know. They're all like "damn why is this happening?" because it's just adding to their negative stereotypes. I feel so sorry for them.

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