A Filipino family taking a holiday in Wellington, New Zealand suffered a shock after they were subjected to a racist tirade by a resident last week.
Krizia Alexa Egipto, 18, said she and her family were on vacation in Wellington last October 26 after she renewed her passport when they decided to go to Night n Day Manners Street coffee shop to get a coffee.
While waiting for their order, Egipto’s father, who works as a dairy farmworker in Winton, struck up a conversation with another Filipino who was inside the shop.
During the conversation, a woman who was behind them suddenly spoke out: “Can you guys be quiet?”
Egipto, a student at Southern Institute of Technology, said they were surprised by the woman’s retort since the conversation between her parents and the other Filipino was not loud. Nevertheless, she said her parents decided to step out, with Egipto following close behind.
It was after her parents had already stepped out of the coffee shop when the woman again spoke out: “Don’t come back here. You’re not welcome here. This is only for white people. This country is for white people only.”
Surprised, Egipto said she asked the woman: “Is this yours? Is this your shop?” The woman, however, ignored her.
In her anger, she said she uttered expletives and called the woman a racist.
“You are a racist. We haven’t done anything to you! Naiyak na po ako. Hindi ko po mapigilan. And then the manager of the store came out and said: ‘We don’t use that language here,'” she told a local news media in an interview.
Egipto said she had to calm down and explain what happened, prompting the store management to ask the woman to leave. Her parents also comforted Egipto.
She said her family resumed walking around Wellington when they chanced on the same woman sitting on a bench who again subjected them to the same racist tirade.
“It’s simple, no big deal. Go home,” the woman said in a video footage taken by Egipto, which went viral on Facebook.
“I don’t care, you are replacing white people like that man over there. Move along, I don’t want to talk to you. Go away, you’re a piece of trash,” the woman added despite Egipto’s explanation that they have visas that gave them the legal right to stay in New Zealand.
She said that after the incident, two women walked up to them – one of whom gave her a hug.
“She said: ‘Can I hug you?’ And I said: ‘Sure, yeah.’ I started crying. I was so overwhelmed. She told me: ‘What you did there was the right thing to do.’ She didn’t know if she would have done the same thing. And she said: ‘I am really proud of what you did. You guys are welcome here in New Zealand,'” Egipto said.
She added that the other woman also gave her ice cream.
In an interview, Egipto said the mayor of Wellington personally called her up to apologize for the incident.
“A staff member asked for my number and then the mayor of Wellington (Justin Lester) called me up to apologize about what happened. He also said that if I ever go back to Wellington, that he would personally take me on a tour to show how much he appreciates us,” she told ABS-CBN News.
“I was really surprised and overwhelmed because that is the mayor of Wellington, which is the capital of New Zealand,” she said, adding that she will go back to the city.
A New Zealand Herald report said Mayor Lester had described the racist attack as an isolated incident that should not be tolerated.
“Her abuse in no way represents the views of the vast majority of Wellingtonians and how they would like visitors to be treated. No visitor should expect to hear that wherever they go,” he told the New Zealand Herald.