TVNZ Maori language expert Scotty Morrison has cleared up what the word 'Pākehā' means after a woman in Christchurch accused an academic of "casual racism" for saying "Pākehā" during a speech.
The Te Karere presenter says both 'Pākehā' and Māori' can both be viewed in a positive light once understood.
A member of the public said the academic's language was offensive and that she knew better than him about the meaning of "Pākehā".
One man Seven Sharp spoke to in the street thought the word translates to "pig skin".
Another said: "When the Māori saw the white sails they said 'hey there's a Pākehā',"
Te Karere presenter Scott Morrison said 'Pākehā' does not mean 'white pig' or 'pig skin', or 'white ghost', and these are all misconceptions and misintrepretations.
"From what I know it comes from pakehakeha, which was an ancient term used in some of our ancient karakia to describe our fairy people who were of light skin," Morrison said.
'Pākehā' is a label that didn't exist before Pākehā people were in New Zealand. And nor did the label 'Māori'.
"We weren't Māori. We've only been Māori since the arrival of Pākehā," Morrison said.
"I wouldn't say they have negative connotations, but I can understand if people felt they were offended by it," he said.
"But I think once you talk to people who understand the concepts of 'Māori' and 'Pākehā', they can be viewed in a positive light."