Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy says New Zealand is becoming more racist, following on from attitudes abroad, as she launches a new campaign urging New Zealanders to Give Nothing to Racism.
"We're seeing a rise in racial hatred overseas and closer to home," she told TVNZ's Breakfast programme.
"Racial prejudice and intolerance starts small, in quiet places, in our everyday lives.
"When it becomes normalised it turns into overt racism and extremism."
The campaign features New Zealander of the Year Taika Waititi in a short video appealing to his compatriots to stop feeding racism.
"You don't have to be a full-on racist, just being a tiny bit racist is enough," he says.
"A smile, a cheeky little giggle, even a simple nod in agreement - it all adds up and it give others the message that it's okay."
Waititi is one of a number of well-known New Zealanders who have produced short videos to support the campaign.
Dame Susan says "some iconic Kiwis are standing shoulder-to-shoulder" with the Human Rights Commission to give no acceptance to racism.
One in three complaints to the Human Rights Commission is about racial discrimination, but the overwhelming majority of people never complained when humiliated or abused.
"Hatred and extremism is becoming normal in some places and we want to avoid that future for Aotearoa," Dame Susan said.
She says that while we should be welcome to have a debate on immigration numbers, it should be tempered with caution.
"Do not let racism and prejudice come in to that discussion".
"Our demographic has changed within a generation and that has posed some challenges and some opportunities.
"We're unique and we have a wonderful opportunity to lead the way here."
The campaign is the second stage of an ongoing, nationwide initiative.
Last September, the commission started a website to allow ordinary New Zealanders to share their personal stories of racism.
It says the That's Us campaign has so far reached more than three million people.