So now rugby league plays the racism card

This can’t get any more pathetic.

The recent Pacific Island Rugby League Internationals have thrown up accusations of racism amid complaints over commentators not pronouncing Pasifika names correctly.

The captains of PNG, Samoa, Tonga and Fiji pose before the Pacific Test. Photo: Facebook / NRL – National Rugby League

New Zealand’s Pacific Islands Media Association (PIMA) says it has complained to Australia’s Fox Sports about the broadcast.

Last week the national teams of Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Samoa and Tonga faced off in Sydney.

PIMA chair Will ‘Ilolahia said many of their members turned the sound off the broadcast as they were disgusted with the pronunciation of the Pacific names.

“They were just butchering the names and even laughing at some of it as they were saying it, and that’s not just on.

Seriously? What next? They need to break because their make-up is running and they need to reapply it? 

“To me it qualifies as a racist act because racism is when one particular culture or race feels that they can dominate the other and through Te Reo, language, it’s just another method of perpetuating that racism so that’s why we have actually said it’s racist.”

Mr ‘Ilolahia said although commentators have struggled with names for years, with the increasing presence of Pasifika at the elite level, it was time for broadcasters to step up.

Rugby broadcaster Fauono Ken Laban agreed.

“The diverse nature of the make up of our society and our elite sporting teams is a reflection of what’s going to happen in the future, so those broadcasters, in my view, who are incapable or don’t even attempt, I would like to think that their position in mainstream broadcasting is limited.”

Mr Laban said he only knew two commentators who personally approached him for advice on pronunciation. He said he understood why people may see the commentary as racist.

“And in some cases it maybe right.”

Some cases. May be.

So, most cases. Probably not.

Get over yourselves. I’ve listened to the Brits butcher our names, and let’s not even start with what we do to the French and some of the Welsh names (excluding Jones, of course)

Sure there may be a reality to it, but when Pasifika rugby needs to have a whine about it we’re all pretty much stuffed.

Leave it to the social justice warrior Susan Devoy, and the perennially outraged, and get on the paddock and play.




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  • Oh Please

    I’m English, my name gets mispronounced all the time. Get over yourselves.

    • Cracker1963

      Mine surname is a Croatian/French hybrid name- only the French pronounce it correctly- Kiwis, Pacifica’s etc never, and I mean NEVER say my name correctly. Do I get upset? you bet (I joked with the Dean of Massey University when I qualified that I was the only European in my group, yet my name was the only one mispronounced) is it racist? absolutely not.

  • taxpayer

    What a bunch of whiners, get over yourselves.
    I take it the moaners are not fans of the 12th man.
    12th man announces the Kiwi league team

  • Stirmyporridge

    So when can we expect the Maori and Polynesian commentators to prounounce all ‘white’ names I perfect Queen’s English ? Or is it referred to as ‘received pronunciation’ ? As always the good ship Racism only sails in one direction.

  • Hill16

    giving my irish name when ordering pizza or coffee is always fun … another day, another different spelling or pronunciation …. that’s it … I need some attention too!

  • Isherman

    Don’t see what the fuss is about, they’re Australian and therefore have trouble pronouncing anything correctly. Highlighting an inherent national speech impediment is almost as bad IMO:)

    • jcpry

      I was informed by an Australian on my last visit over there that the term “Gidday Mate” was derived from “Good Day Inmate” so in that context anything goes I suppose.

    • spanishbride

      To be fair, pronouncing Aboriginal names is very different to pronouncing Maori names. My Dad who is Australian easily pronounces Aboriginal words but gets tied up in knots trying to pronounce Maori words as he didn’t grow up with the language like I did. My GPS has an australian woman’s voice and we wet ourselves laughing when she tries to say Whangarei. She pronounces it Wharn Garlly

  • XCIA

    Ilolahia has some nerve calling anyone racist with his chequered career. If the announcers are in any doubt, they should just call the players number.

  • Not Clinically Insane

    If Laban is going to start on some crusade he should start with his colleagues at Sky….

  • Woody

    Here is an idea, the sports commentators could call everyone on the field “A Player” or just Player for short, also solves the problem of the commentators having to remember the name of another short term useless League player. This would be a win all round.

  • raumatirover

    I cannot respect cultures which promote the ‘physical warrior’ as a role model and condones family and social violence.

  • Joe Burns

    Who dreamed up the “official” Maori pronunciation? I was taught that there are 42 tribes, and each had their own pronunciation of a basically similar language. The written version is that which the missionaries heard, as there was none written before them.

    We have the circus of “wh” as “f” or “w”. How PC do we need to be?

  • spanishbride

    In NZ there are at least 3 different ways of pronouncing the word Maori. I grew up in the Bay of Plenty and the way my teacher Mrs Rapana taught me to pronounce it is not how a Maori language teacher in Wellington says it should be pronounced. That aside my name has been mispronounced my entire life. My name is Juana. I have been called Juanita, Jew-arna, Jew-Anna Joanna and Whana ( as in Don Juan ) To make matters even more difficult for everyone I pronounce it the way my parents decided to say it as the correct Spanish way of saying it requires too much phlegm LOL.

    • Effluent

      How do you pronounce your own name? – Obviously not in any of the ways detailed above.

      • spanishbride

        You-Arna ( silent J ) just to make it extra hard

  • spanishbride

    The Top 10 hardest to pronounce names in the history of the Premier League

  • Curly1952

    Ok, don’t play. Let the selectors find someone else to take your place and receive the exorbitant pay packet you are getting. I like watching players for their skill not their name. Sooks, the lot of them!
    Have they never heard billy Birmingham have a go – Have a listen it is brilliant!!

  • Superman

    Always remember the last resort when you lose an argument is to shoat “racism”.