A New Zealand television presenter has publicly apologised for using a mock Asian accent when referring to the Highlanders’ Japanese international Kazuki Himeno on Friday.
Joe Wheeler, a former Highlander who also played for Suntory Sungoliath, was discussing Himeno’s performance in the Highlanders’ shock 33-12 win over the Crusaders.
He put on the offensive accent while talking about the player on Sky Sport NZ, and it drew sharp criticism on social media.
Speaking with Highlanders flyhalf Mitchell Hunt, Wheeler’s comments included calling Himeno “leally impressive,” triggering swift protests on social media.
Wheeler, who also played five times for New Zealand’s native Māori team, later tweeted that he had met with Himeno and apologised to him.
Himeno replied to the tweet saying he accepted the apology.