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'Seriously, we're in 2018' - shock over Lions club's blackface parade float

John Pulu, a journalist with Pacific heritage, says he is offended by Hawera Mt View Lions Club's blackface parade float at the weekend.

A reporter with Tagata Pasifika, Pulu told TVNZ's Breakfast today, “I couldn’t believe the news when I saw it on social media, seriously, we’re in 2018 and this sort of rubbish is still happening. I’m offended as a Pacific person."

He said they should have been more aware of how offensive their actions were.

“What are we teaching our young people about colour and race?”

Witnesses say there was a stunned silence as the Hawera Mt View Lions Club float made its way down the street. Source: 1 NEWS

The president of the Hawera Mt View Lions Club issued an apology on Saturday after their Christmas parade float featuring people in blackface sparked outrage around the nation.

Initially, the club vigorously defended its float.

“Let’s not be too precious or PC,” the club said on Facebook in a post that was later deleted.

"It's a shame we have to apologise for something we were out in the community doing that had nothing to do with racism and all the rest of it," Lions Club chair Joy Babington told Stuff, calling critics bigoted and small minded.

“We didn't have a theme this year, so we decided to go black and white, and they had face paint because they were painting kids’ faces and the rest of it, so we painted our faces,” she added.

But since then, the club has issued a statement with an apology and an admission that they “got this wrong”.

"We were naive. We are really disappointed in ourselves,” club officials said in the press release. "…We have learnt a big lesson from this and we will be more aware of these sorts of things going forward."

John Pulu of Tagata Pasifika told TVNZ’s Breakfast 'he couldn’t believe this sort of rubbish is still happening'. Source: Breakfast