Commissioner wades into lolly row

12:35, May 04 2009
OFENSIVE LOLLY: Pascall Eskimos have made headlines around the world after an Inuit women approached The Taranaki Daily News saying that they are insensitive to her culture.

New Zealand's Canadian High Commissioner has blamed Kiwis' "rednecky element" for comments suggesting a tourist should go home after complaining about Eskimo lollies.

NZ High Commissioner Kate Lackey said New Zealand residents were as loyal to Eskimos lollies as Canadians were to Tim Hortons coffee, the Canadian Press reported.

But rude radio comments and online calls for the 21-year-old tourist to head back to Canada were not acceptable, she told Canadian media yesterday.

"I would hope New Zealanders would be a bit more courteous and understanding," Lackey said.

"I'll probably get into trouble in New Zealand for saying such a thing, but often there's a sort of 'rednecky' element ... The people who get on talk-back (radio) and Stuff haven't had time to think through a bit more deeply how the other person might feel."

The Eskimo lolly controversy, which erupted this week, has gone international since Canadian tourist Seeka Lee Veevee Parsons told the Taranaki Daily News the sweets were insensitive to her culture and bought back painful memories of racism in Canada as a child.


In the blogosphere, on talkback and around watercoolers, New Zealanders have been debating whether Eskimo lollies are offensive to Inuit after Ms Parson's, 21, said the term was offensive to her people.

Mr Parsons, an Inuit of the Nunavut Territory in Canada, said she planned to send packets of the confectionary to the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and her grandfather, a tribal elder.

Confectionary company Pascalls, which produces the sweet, has refused to stop making the "iconic New Zealand lolly".

Hundreds of readers commented on the story, with a strong thread arguing the call was another case of political correctness gone mad. Hundreds more comments were rejected on grounds of offensiveness.

Ms Lackey defended Pascalls' business decision, which she said was "a wee bit hard-hearted". "But, as I say, this particular candy has been around for so long. I think New Zealanders would have had absolutely no idea that it might cause offence to another people."

She said she has the highest admiration for the Inuit and has travelled across Canada's North.