Sunday, 11 January 2009


What would life be like if you looked different? How would people treat you if your skin were another colour? What if you were a different gender? Or you had a disability? The Big Experiment is a New Zealand local series, a social experiment that radically changes people's identities and gives them the opportunity to walk a day in someone else's shoes.

We watched one episode of this series where a young white Kiwi lass was disguised as an Asian girl. She was dressed like a typical Asian girl and even taught to speak with a typical Asian accent.

This episode began by showing how she was treated at shops around Auckland when she was who she was and then again at the same shops after her transformation into an Asian girl. It was amazing how she was treated when she looked and talked like an one. At one outlet, she was completely ignored and at another one she was treated like she could not afford the items on display.

Until then I never really saw or felt discrimination in New Zealand. At least I never experienced discrimination here like I have in other Western countries I have been to. Maybe I was lucky or maybe I never paid any attention to it to notice it.

This aftertoon I went to the Harvey Norman outlet in Paraparaumu to print some photographs. While waiting for the photos to be printed, I was browsing at some cameras on sale. I asked a young white Kiwi how much they were selling a particular model. He said "I will be with you in a minute", and immediately walked to another customer who just walked in and attended to him instead. He looked at me from across the shop without feeling guilty about asking me to wait. After about 5 minutes seeing me still there, another sales person asked me if he could help. I politely told him that the other guy told me to wait but chose to attend to another customer who walked in after me and if he doesn't want my business, I will gladly take it else where.

It is interesting that we see things only after it was brought to our attention. Maybe discrimination is still being widely practiced, maybe this was a one off incident. After having lived in New Zealand for almost 4 years, I think most Kiwi's accept you for what/who you are and discrimination is not as bad as it is elsewhere in the world. I have real great Kiwi friends and none have made me feel that I am any different from them. But then, all it takes is one person to change the way you think.