Acting Race Relations Commissioner slams Invercargill Mayor Nobby Clark over N-word usage

Invercargill Mayor Nobby Clark has waded further into the controversy around his use of the N-word.

He defended using the word in an interview with Guy Williams on his TV show New Zealand Today.

During the parts of the interview that aired, Clark used the N-word twice.

"If you had some rap music come in that every second word was n***a would that be ok? Certainly not to me," he said.

He also said he hated a gang called the South Sydney N****s: "and I hate that terminology, it's offensive to people".

Clark referred to the N-word when he was speaking at an art gallery last year.

"We have art or poetry that uses words like queer, n***a, uh f**k the bitch, which I've heard recently," he had said.

The interview appeared to exasperate Williams, who asked: "How did they replace Tim Shadbolt with someone even more cooked than Tim Shadbolt?"

"Easily," Clark replied.

At a media briefing, Christchurch mayor Phil Mauger was asked whether mayors should ever use the N-word.

"No, no. Not clever," he said.

Labour Party leader Chris Hipkins agreed.

"It's no longer OK. It was never OK in the first place, but it's even less OK now," he said.

In the interview that aired last night Clark eventually promised to stop saying the N-word only if Williams himself said the word.

Williams did and said he later regretted it but Clark concluded: "Interesting for the benefit of wrapping up an interview you were prepared to sell your soul."

Vernon Andrews, who has written books on racial discrimination, accepted Williams "took one for the team".

"You had to get out something that he needed to hear, not because he hates the word, it's because he likes the word," he said.

Current Acting Race Relations Commissioner Saunoamaali'i Karanina Sumeo has weighed in, saying: "Leaders in elected offices have a special responsibility to speak and lead our communities in inclusive and respectful ways, and should never use discriminatory, demeaning or racist language.

"It is important that the N-word is not normalised; our communities expect and deserve better.

"Where someone repeatedly uses the N-word, such racism can harm and perpetuate division, disharmony and disconnection within/among our communities," she said.

Invercargill councillor Darren Ludlow stood against Clark for mayor two years ago but didn't watch last night.

"I think it would be better if he apologised... I wouldn't have done that. I wouldn't have used the N-word," he said.

Ludlow said he didn't watch the programme as it aired last night because he had a "sneaking suspicion of the impending car crash" but didn't think Clark would say sorry.

"We could ask him to apologise. I doubt that he will because he won't see he's got something to apologise for," said Ludlow.

Newshub asked Clark for comment today but did not hear back from him.