Get help for race-based online abuse

Online bullying, abuse or harassment based on your colour, race, ethnicity or nationality is not OK and there is help available if you’re experiencing it.  The team at Netsafe can provide you with help and advice seven days a week.


We can give you free and confidential help with issues around online bullying, harassment or abuse. We’ll talk to you about what’s happening and give you advice on what you can do to stop the bullying or harassment and  how to stay safe.

We can also look into what’s happening and work with you and the person bullying or harassing you to get them to stop – but we won’t do this unless you say it’s OK. We may also contact online platforms like Facebook or Snapchat to ask them to block or remove posts or other harmful content.

Netsafe may also be able to provide you with information about other options for stopping the abuse or harassment.

If you’re concerned about the immediate safety of you or someone else, call 111.


In New Zealand online abuse, harassment and bullying can be covered by the Harmful Digital Communications Act. We’ve put together some information about the Act below so you can learn more about what types of behaviour might be included in the legislation.

Harmful Digital Communications Act:

The Harmful Digital Communications Act 2015 (the Act) tackles some of the ways people use technology to hurt others. It aims to prevent and reduce the impact of online bullying, harassment, image based abuse and other forms of abuse and intimidation online. Online harassment or abuse when it targets an individual based on their colour, race, ethnic or national origins is a breach of the 10 Communication Principles set out in the Act. You can learn more about the Act and the 10 Communication Principles here.

Netsafe is the agency chosen to take complaints of harmful digital communications and informs people about the options that are available to them to remedy the situation. If you need help our free and confidential advice and support service is available seven days a week.


  1. Take a breath
    This type of abuse can be extremely upsetting, but before you respond take a minute to think through your plan.
  2. Reach out
    Talk to someone that you feel you can trust. This could be a close friend or family and whānau. If you’d rather talk to someone else, you can contact NetsafeNeed to TalkLifelineor Youthlinefor support.
  3. Keep evidence
    Save texts and emails and take screenshots of anything that might disappear later. Make sure you keep track of dates, what has happened, who you think did it and why.
  4. Report it
    Block or report the abuse online. Most social networks have safety centres with tips on how to deal with abuse on the platforms. Here are some handy links:

Facebook Snapchat instagramYoutube Twitter

There’s also the ability to disable comments on posts and videos on Instagram and YouTube.

  1. Contact Netsafe
    We can help you with advice and support. You can  make a report online, text ‘Netsafe’ to 4282, email us at give us a call on 0508 NETSAFE (0508 638 723).


If you feel you’ve been discriminated against on the basis of your colour, race, ethnicity or nationality, the Human Rights Commission may be able to help. We’ve put together some information below about the Human Rights Act and the types of discrimination it could cover.

Human Rights Act:

The Human Rights Act 1993 protects people in New Zealand from discrimination in a number of areas of public life. Discrimination occurs when a person is treated unfairly or less favourably than another person in the same or similar circumstances.

Under the Human Rights Act, it’s unlawful to discriminate based on colour, race, or ethnic or national origins (this includes nationality or citizenship). This type of discrimination may be unlawful when it happens in the following areas of public life:

  • Government or public sector activities
  • Employment
  • Business partnerships
  • Education
  • Public places, vehicles and facilities
  • The provision of goods and services
  • The provision of land, housing and accommodation
  • Industrial and professional associations, qualifying bodies and vocational training bodies.

Racial disharmony (or what is otherwise known as New Zealand’s civil hate speech provision) is another form of discrimination under the Human Rights Act. This type of discrimination is directed against a group of persons, rather than an individual. Section 61 makes it unlawful for any person to publish or distribute written matter or use words in public which are threatening, abusive, or insulting and likely to excite hostility against or bring into contempt any group of persons on the ground of the colour, race, or ethnic or national origins.

If you feel you have been discriminated against on the basis of your colour, race, or ethnic or national origins you can contact the Human Rights Commission about laying a complaint.

The Human Rights Act also provides for a criminal remedy for inciting racial disharmony. This section largely repeats the same test as for section 61, except that an accused must have “intended” that his or her conduct would have the effect of inciting hostility or ill-will towards a specified group or bringing that group into contempt or ridicule. The crime carries a conviction of imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months or to a fine not exceeding $7,000.


Need help or advice? Contact us.

  • Text ‘Netsafe’ to 4282
  • Email
  • Call us toll free on 0508 NETSAFE (0508 638 723)
  • Online report form at

Our helpline is open from 8am – 8pm Monday to Friday and 9am – 5pm on weekends.


Need to Talk
Human Rights Commission

More information

Next post How to stop online bullying

Previous post Christchurch Attacks 16 March 2019

Related Posts