Organisers of the Pacific Music Awards are under fire after awarding disgraced pop star J Williams a gong at last night's awards ceremony. The singer, who has admitted attacking his former partner Larissa Brown, won the Radio Airplay award for his song You Got Me, written for his partner.
He was also nominated for the Auckland Council People's Choice Award at a glittering ceremony at the TelstraClear Pacific Events Centre.
Woman's Refuge chief executive Heather Henare said Mayor Len Brown's council had effectively condoned domestic violence. "I think that it's an oversight on the council's part not to remove him from that award process. By allowing his nomination to go forward it condones his behaviour."
Williams is on tour in Germany. He resigned from the Mayor's World Cup First XV and as an ambassador for an anti-smoking campaign after admitting violence against his former partner.
But Brown said there had not been enough time to remove him from the awards process.
"It was just too late to change it," he said at the ceremony where he sang a duet with Auckland councillor Alf Filipaina, who Brown described as his "homeboy".
The nominations were released in April, a couple of weeks before the abuse allegations surfaced. Williams was also accused of "man-handling" Larissa Brown outside a nightclub after last year's Pacific Music Awards ceremony.
The ceremony organisers said they had been unaware of Williams' abusive behaviour.
In a statement the Pacific Music Awards Trust said: "Finalists in the Pacific Music Awards are judged on their artistic ability and performance. While we're saddened to hear of the recent media reports, J Williams' personal situation does not affect the outcome of these awards, nor his win in the Radio Airplay Award category."
Awards trustee the Rev Mua Strickson-Pua accepted the award on Williams' behalf.
Williams has said the song that gained the air play award, You Got Me, was written for his former partner. The couple have since broken up, and Larissa Brown has given birth to their son Ryder.
In a recent interview, Williams blamed alcohol and his experiences of being subjected to violence growing up. He claimed drinking was his demon.
Jill Proudfoot of domestic violence support group Shine said Williams needed to take responsibility for his actions. "He needs to man up." And she added it was wrong for him to be held up as a role model.
R&B group Nesian Mystik won three awards including the Auckland Council People's Choice Award for Best Pacific Artist. Ladi6 won Best Pacific Female Artist and the Best Pacific Urban Artist category.