Golliwog paper a race issue

NEIL REID
Last updated 05:00 18/12/2011
OFFENSIVE? The golliwog paper found in some discount stores.
OFFENSIVE? The golliwog paper found in some discount stores.

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Golliwog wrapping paper has appeared on the shelves of a popular chain store.

Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres said the paper, retailing for $2 at Look Sharp stores, was likely to cause offence.

"I would prefer if they withdrew products like that from sale," he said. "Often in New Zealand we don't realise what a controversial history they have in other countries."

A spokesman for Look Sharp initially appeared to be unaware of the Golliwog wrapping paper. After agreeing to an interview, he then failed to return messages.

De Bres said he received several complaints yearly from New Zealanders offended by Golliwog-related products.

But Jeff Green, a prominent figure in the Tainui iwi, said the issue showed New Zealand was increasingly becoming bogged down with political correctness.

"I think it is nonsense...who cares whether someone has Golliwog wrapping? There are more important things in life and around the world to get concerned about than people worried about whether someone calls someone else a `Golliwog' or is wrapping presents in Golliwog wrapping [paper]."

During a stint as a TV basketball commentator he was censured by TVNZ for describing former Tall Blacks international Miles Pearce as "looking like a Golliwog".

"I didn't know what I had said wrong," he said. "I was gobsmacked...I don't see it as racist or anything like that."

Controversial Radio Sport host Tony Veitch also caused outrage after describing American tennis player James Blake as "the world's ultimate Golliwog".

In August, the sale of Golliwog dolls at the Nature's Window retail store at Auckland International Airport created global headlines.

Big Boi of hip-hop duo Outkast spotted the dolls as he prepared to fly out of New Zealand after a brief tour.

He posted a picture of one on his Twitter account, then wrote: "Ok, all blacks is a rugby team, but what the f--k are these, also in the airport."

Management of Nature's Window subsequently pulled the dolls from their shelves.

Golliwogs first appeared in a variety of children's books in the late 19th century and by the 1940s they were popular toys.

But they have since become synonymous with racism, and the dolls are now banned in many countries.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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