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Complaints Over Harawira's Email Put Holmes In The Dark

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Hone Harawira
Hone Harawira

Wellington, Nov 11 NZPA - Hone Harawira's expletive-laden and racially abusive email has generated a record number of complaints to the Race Relations Commissioner.

Commissioner Joris de Bres said 365 complaints were recorded in the last five days, compared with 407 for all of 2008, 3News reported.

That was more than complaints about broadcaster Paul Holmes' "cheeky darky" description of the then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in 2003.

Mr de Bres said people were expressing similar outrage at Mr Harawira's comments.

Then Holmes and Newstalk ZB apologised to listeners and Mr Annan. Mr de Bres met with the station but there were no other repercussions from the commissioner.

Mr de Bres said Mr Harawira's comments were not punishable under freedom of expression laws and did not breach the Human Rights Act.

"It's words that lead to deeds that excite racial hostility that are an offence under the Act."

There was a very high threshold to meet that criteria in terms of freedom of expression, he said.

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