9 Feb 2011

Police apologise for describing woman as 'half-caste'

10:32 pm on 9 February 2011

Police have apologised for using the term "half-caste" to describe a missing woman.

Waitakere police called Frances Manufui a "half-cast (sic) Samoan European" in a media release that was also posted on the police website.

The 48-year-old went missing from a residential facility in Te Atatu, West Auckland, and was found on Wednesday.

Police said the release contained an "incorrect ethnic term" that is not acceptable and apologised for any offence it may have caused. They have issued a new release, removing the words.

Auckland-based Samoan lawyer Olinda Woodroofe said she is surprised police used the term as it is derogatory and discriminatory.

"Talking as a Samoan, I think it's derogatory to use the term nowadays; and talking as somebody who believes in human rights, I think this woman deserves a better description by police."

Ms Woodroofe said if the public is to respect police, they have to do their part to earn that respect.

Maori broadcaster Willie Jackson says the term no longer has a place in New Zealand society, but it was probably used out of ignorance rather than with ill intent.