Maria Folau apologises for insensitive comment

Luke Kirkness, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 18 Sep 2018, 7:43PM

Maria Folau apologises for insensitive comment

Luke Kirkness, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 18 Sep 2018, 7:43PM

Silver Ferns goal shooter Maria Folau has apologised for making an "insensitive comment" about self-harm during an interview.

The 31-year-old was being questioned about the performance of the Ferns' shooters in their loss against England on Saturday when she made the remark on television.

"I'm not slitting my wrists in the room or anything and neither are the other shooters as well, we've just got to get on with it," Folau said.

The comments were met with anger and criticism from the public.

In a statement sent to the Herald, Folau apologised for the comment and said she didn't want to upset or offend anyone.

"I wish to apologise for my insensitive comment on Newshub last night, I in no way meant to upset and offend people," she said.

"I am extremely devastated, and I understand the serious issue that New Zealand has with suicide rates," she said.

Mental Health Foundation chief executive Shaun Robinson understands why some people are upset by Folau's comments.

"Self-harm affects many of our young people and shouldn't be made light of," he said.

"This is a good opportunity for us all to think about the words we use and how we can do better.

"Some people may think this is "PC taking over," but we think it's just old-fashioned courtesy and kindness."

He added "flippant phrases" about mental health problems are common in our culture and can be harmful to some.

"While they might feel like light remarks, they help contribute to misunderstandings about people who experience mental distress, diminish the seriousness of these experiences and make it more difficult to ask for help," he said.

Co-head of school of Māori Studies and Pacific Studies for the University of Auckland, Dr Jemaima Tiatia-Seath said it highlights the need for more education around safe language use in New Zealand.

"Although I believe it was probably an arbitrary comment ... it goes to show how misinformed society is if those comments are still used at whim," she said.

"As a country, [we need] to take it more seriously because it's not like we would say something around cancer. Why shouldn't it be the same for suicide?

"There are some instances too where people make comments about sexual harassment or violence without thinking."

Folau also got herself in hot water earlier this year when she publicly supported her rugby-playing husband Israel Folau's comments about homosexuals going to hell.


If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.


  • LIFELINE:0800 543 354 or 09 5222 999 within Auckland (available 24/7)
    • SUICIDE CRISIS HELPLINE: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
    • YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633 ,free text 234 or email [email protected] or online chat.
    • NEED TO TALK? Free call or text 1737 (available 24/7)
    • KIDSLINE: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
    • WHATSUP: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
    • DEPRESSION HELPLINE: 0800 111 757
    • SAMARITANS – 0800 726 666.


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