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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 September, 2003, 12:53 GMT 13:53 UK
NZ radio host in Annan race row
Paul Holmes
Paul Holmes has apologised for the comments
A row is raging in New Zealand after a leading broadcaster described UN Secretary General Kofi Annan as a "cheeky darkie".

Paul Holmes, one of New Zealand's highest-profile and highest paid broadcasters, told his morning radio show audience: "We're not going to be told how to live our lives by a Ghanaian."

The remarks have been roundly condemned by listeners, the country's prime minister and race relations groups.

Mr Holmes has since apologised to his audience at NewstalkZB, where he is described as having a "quirky sense of humour".

It's all very well giving a darkie that secretary general job but we'll only take so much
Paul Holmes

"I should not have said what I did. It was tongue-in-cheek. It was the shock end of the spectrum; it was a bit mad probably," he said.

His comments had been prompted by Mr Annan's speech on Tuesday urging the international community to help strengthen the UN as an instrument for crisis resolution.

"That Kofi Annan, I've got to say to you, has been a very cheeky darkie overnight," Mr Holmes said.

"He's been a very cheeky darkie. It's all very well giving a darkie that secretary-general job but we'll only take so much. I'm sorry, we will only take so much.

"We're not going to be told how to live our lives by a Ghanaian."

Prime Minister Helen Clark distanced New Zealand from the comments.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan
Kofi Annan was repeatedly insulted by broadcaster Paul Holmes
"That comment was completely unacceptable and demeaning of one of the world's top civil servants," she said.

"I would not want New Zealand in any way to be associated with such comments."

Government Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres said Mr Holmes' remarks were insulting.

"The colour of his skin is hardly an issue. It is a free country but people who have positions of responsibility on the airwaves should also exercise their responsibility appropriately."

Mr Holmes, who hosts a commercial radio show and a prime time television programme, said he "unreservedly withdrew" the comments.

"I think regret would be an understatement. I'm sick in my guts about it, actually," he was quoted as saying by the New Zealand Herald.




SEE ALSO:
NZ tackles growing racism
29 Aug 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Full text: Annan speech to the UN
23 Sep 03  |  Americas
Fears for New Zealand's Asian gamblers
29 May 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: New Zealand
08 Jul 03  |  Country profiles


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