New Zealand Immigration official's Indian radio remark sparks race row

A New Zealand immigration official has sparked a race row after rejecting a woman's visa application for a job, saying New Zealanders are unlikely to hear Indian radio.

Melbourne: A New Zealand immigration official has sparked a race row after rejecting a woman's visa application for a job, saying New Zealanders are unlikely to hear Indian radio.

The case came to light after Immigration lawyer Ramya Sathiyanathan received an email from the immigration officer with regard to a visa application for a job which a client had been offered.

The position was advertised in some local newspapers and and with Indian station Radio Tarana.

The immigration officer objected to the employer, who supported the visa application, saying genuine attempts were not made to recruit locals workers as New Zealanders are unlikely to hear Indian radio.

"I was shocked by what I took to be a racist statement," Sathiyanathan, originally from Sri Lanka, was quoted as saying by the New Zealand Herald.

She filed a complaint after failing to get a retraction of the statement or an apology from the agency.

Immigration area manager Michael Carley, however, said that the remark was made in the context of the employer having to prove they had made genuine attempts to recruit New Zealanders before offering the position to a migrant.

"We completely reject any assertion that any of our immigration officers display any racial basis in their decision making, but apologises to anyone who took offence about the comment," he said.

There are nearly 155,000 New Zealanders of Indian descent, many of whom were born and have grown up in New Zealand.