By AINSLEY THOMSON

Bic Runga says growing up with racism has not made her bitter or ashamed of her homeland.

The singer/song writer, who is half Maori and half Chinese, arrived back in New Zealand yesterday to find comments she had made in an interview in an Irish newspaper making headlines in this country.

Runga, who is one of New Zealand's most successful musicians, was quoted in the Belfast Telegraph as saying about New Zealand that "relationships can be really bad between Maori and others".

The 28-year-old, who is now based in Paris, was reported as saying her childhood in Christchurch was tough and racism was a constant feature.

"The Australian situation is probably better known abroad, but unfortunately New Zealand can be a racist place, too."

Yesterday, Runga, who is back in New Zealand for her Acoustic Church Tour, issued a press release about the comments she had made in Ireland.

"No country is without racism, I grew up with it, that was my experience. It has not made me bitter or ashamed.

"New Zealand is a beautiful and unique place. I love my country and I am proud to represent it internationally."

The press release, issued by a public relations company, also said Runga found it heartbreaking to arrive back in New Zealand and read headlines about what she had said.

"Sensational headlines do not truthfully convey what I think, nor who I am."

However, she did not dispute that she made the controversial comments.

Runga declined the Herald's request for an interview.