Radio host Sean Plunket stands by calling Eleanor Catton a 'hua' video

Radio Live host Sean Plunket having a go at Eleanor Catton and using an inappropriate slur.

Radio host Sean Plunket has clarified what he meant when he called Eleanor Catton an "ungrateful hua".

The comment was made on air this morning, and was misheard by several listeners as "ungrateful whore".

Read more: Eleanor Catton's problem with New Zealand

Plunket this afternoon said he "certainly didn't call her a whore", but the issue had sparked an interesting language debate.

"[Hua]'s got a whole lot of meanings, actually... 'head up arse' is another one that would be applicable," the RadioLive host said..

"I use it as a way of saying, 'you ungrateful scoundrel'..."

Plunket said he stood by his comments in which he described Catton as a "traitor" to New Zealand.

"Here's the woman who's a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit, and works at a publicly-funded institution, and has received a lot of financial help during her career to write things," he said.

HARSH WORDS: Sean Plunket has called Eleanor Catton an "ungrateful hua".

HARSH WORDS: Sean Plunket has called Eleanor Catton an "ungrateful hua".

"Then she turns around and says, 'I don't get a fair crack'...

"That's my opinion, that's her opinion, we're in a free country."

Discussing the word on air this afternoon, fellow RadioLive host Willie Jackson said he used "hua" as a positive word, meaning "fruit", "value", and "benefits". Upoko kohua on the other hand, was an insult, he said.

Plunket's criticism came after Catton said she was uncomfortable being seen as an ambassador for New Zealand which she said was dominated by neo-liberal, profit-obsessed, shallow and money-hungry politicians who did not care about culture.

Tom Roa of Waikato University's Maori department said "hua" was a shortened version of "upoko kohua", which meant "may your head be boiled and eaten".

Over time the expression had been shortened to "hua", he said.

"It's not a nice comment anyway, but it's certainly got nothing to do with prostitution," he said.

Plunket this morning criticised Catton for "bagging" New Zealand when she had a taxpayer-funded job at a university. Catton is a lecturer in creative writing at the Manukau Institute of Technology.

"I don't see you as an ambassador for our country, I see you as a traitor," Plunket said.

"I'm only having a crack at you now because you're being such an ungrateful hua, Eleanor Catton."

However, several listeners questioned whether Plunket in fact called her a "whore"

Labour leader Andrew Little said Catton was entitled to express her opinion about New Zealand and the country's politicians.

He said it was important to celebrate freedom of speech, especially after the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack in Paris.

"Two weeks on from one of the grossest tragedies in the world - which is all about freedom of speech - let's celebrate freedom of speech, let's celebrate and welcome what our writers have to contribute and to offer," he said.. 

"Let's actually listen to them, let's not try and shout them down."

Catton was "calling it as she sees it", Little said.

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New Zealand needed to support its strong creative and expressive arts community, he said.

If Catton felt the creative sector was not being supported in New Zealand it was important to hear about it and work out how to solve the problem, he said.

Little said he did not take Catton's comments personally. 

She was a "high-performing" and "reputable" writer and New Zealand should be proud of what she had achieved, he said.

Prime Minister John Key yesterday said he was disappointed Catton felt that way, but not necessarily surprised. 

"She has been aligned with the Green Party, and that probably summarises the Green Party view of this Government," he said. 

"I don't think that reflects what most New Zealanders perceive of the Government. If it was, they probably wouldn't have voted for us in such large numbers."


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