The ads are being “urgently” pulled off the back of Waikato buses after complaints.
The Department of Corrections is “urgently pulling” ads from buses after they were deemed racist and offensive.
Job candidates were urged to “become the change for our Waikato whānau” in the advertisement, which was displayed on buses in Waikato and Bay of Plenty.
“Join today, change tomorrow” is written on the sign, which depicts a Māori woman wearing a prison officer uniform.
In a statement, the Department of Corrections deputy chief executive Māori, Topia Rameka, said he received the complaints last Friday, saying he had not been made aware of the advertisement before the complaints.
Rameka said as soon as he was made aware he “asked for the online versions to be immediately pulled and for the bus backs to be removed as soon as this could be done”.
He said amendments to the sign-out process for ads were also in the works.
“I would like to take this opportunity to apologise for the offence caused. While ignorance is no excuse, I am confident that harm was not intended. I have also apologised directly to senior executives of Waikato-Tainui iwi,” Rameka said
The roll-put for advertisements in the Waikato, Bay of Plenty and South Auckland districts began this month as an extension of the campaign to recruit more Corrections officers.
As of the end of April, Corrections had about 450 frontline custodial vacancies across 17 prisons, Rameka said.
The campaign aimed to recruit staff for Spring Hill Corrections Facility and the new 500-bed facility at Waikeria Prison, both in Waikato. There are 32 vacancies at Spring Hill and 27 at Waikeria Prison.
Stanley St (formerly Ogilvy New Zealand), the advertising firm for Corrections, cast the actors for the commercials.
This is not the first time Corrections has come under fire for “racist” advertisements. Earlier this year a Corrections ad was ordered off the air after complaints of racial stereotyping.
It showed a Māori boy whose imprisoned father was ‘saved’ by a white Corrections officer.
The Advertising Standards Authority said in its decision that there were “three complaints about this advertisement [that] were concerned about negative stereotyping of Māori and Pacifica people as criminals and said it portrays the idea of a ‘white saviour’ and reinforces an unequal power dynamic”.
The ASA agreed with a criticism that one of the advertisements showed “a very stereotypical representation of Pākehā Corrections officer and Māori prisoner, which was likely to cause offence and harm”.