Win a wife contest stays, with a name change

By Hayden Donnell, NZ Herald staff

Promotion of the competition on The Rock's website has been replaced by news of the announcement.
Promotion of the competition on The Rock's website has been replaced by news of the announcement.

A radio station's controversial 'win a wife' competition is going ahead - with a tongue-in-cheek name change - despite allegations it devalues marriage and violates human dignity.

The Rock's 'Win a Wife' promotion offered the chance to fly to Ukraine for 12 nights, be given $2000 spending money, and choose a bride from the 'Endless Love' agency.

A statement on the The Rock's website this morning said due to "growing concern and controversy", station management would make a special on-air announcement on 'Win a Wife' at 5pm.

All promotion of the competition on the station had been replaced with a notice about the announcement.

The announcement was that the name of the competition was being changed from 'Win a Wife' to 'Win A Trip To Beautiful Ukraine For 12 Nights And Meet Eastern European Hot Lady Who Maybe One Day You Marry' competition.

The competition has sparked anger among MPs and the New Zealand Ukranian community and prompted a letter of complaint from the Ukrainian embassy in Australia.

Advertiser Harvey Norman issued a statement to a Facebook group opposing 'Win a Wife' saying it does not support the competition.

ASB Bank said it had no association with the promotion and would not target advertising to support it.

The station's decision to change the competition's name comes after complaints to The Rock and the Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA) from Ukranian officials.

Ukrainian Ambassador to Australia, Valentyn Adomaytis, wrote to the BSA accusing The Rock of reducing marriage to a "cattle auction".

His letter called on the station to pull the competition as it was derogatory and could cause future social trauma and legal problems.

"The Embassy of Ukraine, the existing Ukrainian New Zealand community and general public opinion in your country... take it as the indecent demonstration of low taste and cultural standards as well as utter disrespect and violation of human dignity directed not only at Ukranian women but at the entire better part of the humankind."

Ukrainian Association of New Zealand chairwoman Nataliya Poshyvaylo-Tolwer said the contest was a shameful promotion stunt which promoted the idea Ukraine is a place to go to pick up wives.

"It is very offensive.

"I am a tall blonde woman and I hold a public speaking job and the first thing I get asked 90 per cent of the time is 'did you get here by the internet'. It doesn't matter that I have a degree in business economics or all my other achievements. This is just perpetuating that stereotype.

"We have jobs. We are contributing to New Zealand society."

The small size of the 700-strong New Zealand-Ukrainian community made it a "soft target" for The Rock, she said.

"It's going too low. We can't defend ourselves. It's treating us like second-class citizens."

Former Green MP and social activist Sue Bradford earlier slammed the contest, saying it should be pulled.

Labour's Women's Affairs spokeswoman Carol Beaumont said she was "appalled" by the promotion, as it treated women as commodities.

Entrants to 'Win a Wife' were asked to fill in a quiz which The Rock said was to "weed out the no-hopers and time-wasters".

Five finalists would be subjected to character assessment from friends and family and psychometric testing and suitability for marriage testing by a psychologist appointed by MediaWorks.

The Rock programme director Brad King told NZPA last week the station had received a "massive reaction" from all over the country.

"Some people think it's a little stupid, others see it as what it is, a tongue-in-cheek idea that gives someone the opportunity of a lifetime to travel on an all expenses paid trip to the Ukraine," he said.

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