Rugby league presenter Erin Molan has been taken to task by NRL stars Martin Taupau and Braden Hamlin-Uele over her ‘racist’ joke about surnames of Pacific Island born players.
In a segment with 2GB radio’s ‘The Continuous Call’ recently, Molan was on air with Darryl Brohman and Mark Levy when she made the slip-up.
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Discussing the pronunciation of NRL player names, Molan said ‘hooka looka mooka hooka fooka’ - prompting her confused co-hosts to quickly change the subject.
Taupau, who is of Samoan heritage, took to Twitter on Friday evening to declare his grandfather would be ‘turning in his grave’ over Molan’s attempts at humour.
“Understandable for our non-Pasifika community attempting to properly announce our names, but to disrespect and make a mockery of former/current Pasifika players in the NRL like how you carried on is DISGRACEFUL!” Taupau wrote.
“My grandfather would be tossing in his grave in anger!”
Cronulla forward Braden Hamlin-Uele took to his Instagram story to criticise Molan, suggesting if she didn’t understand what her words meant, she should get off the air.
“An inside joke? Show some respect!,” Hamlin-Uele said in an Instagram story.
“If that’s a joke between colleagues then F that workplace. Get out of the job @ErinMolan.
“Disgusting to even think that would be ok, to put on an accent and say that. Wake up to yourself.”
Molan and Channel 9 have defended the gaffe, telling the Daily Mail the former Footy Show host was just referencing an earlier story Brohman had told and that any perceived racial insensitivity on Molan’s part was just a ‘misunderstanding’.
Pacific Island journalists, fans slam Erin Molan
The backlash to Molan’s comments has been significant, with Pacific Island and Indigenous journalists in particular appalled by their Channel 9 colleague’s words.
NITV reporter Madeline Hayman-Reber said Molan clearly did not understand why what she had said was deeply offensive.
“A disgusting display of racism made even more racist by her failure to recognise, understand, or learn. This is white Australia,” she wrote.
ABC presenter Tali Aualiitia said being able to pronounce Pacific Island names was part of Molan’s job, not a punchline.
“Erin Molan works in rugby league and, there are a bloody lot of Pacific players. It’s literally her job to say these names and, to do the work to same them right,” Aualiitia wrote.
“What she fails to understand, is that a Pacific name is not just a surname. It’s your ancestors, your village, your people, your country.
“We wear our names with pride and they are not there to be made a mockery of – even as a joke with your co-worker.”