And she said while she stayed silent when Winston Peters recently played the race card in blaming Chinese migrants for most of Auckland's problems, she expects to lock horns with him at some stage in the lead up to next year's election.
Devoy said she has exercised her judgement about what's worth getting involved in and she didn't want to give the New Zealand First leader "any oxygen".
"Winston has carried on this tirade for a long time and I don't think anything I'm going to say is going to make a leopard change his spots."
But Devoy said there is a broader human rights issue if Peters continues to stigmatise one population to his own benefit.
It is about time that someone in the Race Relations role called Winston Peters on his xenophobic, bullying behaviour. Peters has been spouting his anti-Asian rhetoric since the mid 1990's, when he made the infamous "rows of ostentatious houses" speech. Oddly enough, the worst of Peters' xenophobia seems to happen in election years.
Of course the supreme irony for Peters was serving as Helen Clark's Foreign Minister between 2005 and 2008, when Clark stood him down in the wake of the Owen Glenn donation row. During that time, Phil Goff negotiated a Free Trade Agreement with China, which Peters voted against, despite the obvious benefits to New Zealand exporters.
We hope that Dame Susan makes good on her promise becasue she is quite correct; a leopard does not change its spots. Winston Peters has built a following based on fear-mongering about immigration, especially Asian immigration, and most recently that from China. That the facts contradict Peters makes no difference whatsoever; facts have always been a trivial inconvenience (or should that be an Inconvenient Truth?) to the NZ First leader.
If Dame Susan Devoy succeeds in ridding New Zealand of the ignorance and prejudice that underpins Winston Peters' rhetoric, she will have done us all a big favour.