Images have surfaced of new X Factor judge Shelton Woolright in blackface, which he has defended as part of his stage performance.
The pictures, seen on Twitter and Woolwright's now-private Facebook page show the singer with his face painted black in performances with his band I Am Giant.
Blackface refers to makeup used to imitate a black person and has a history dating back to the minstrel shows of the 19th century, where white people would smear burnt cork on their faces. The practice is largely condemned as racist.
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Stuff.co.nz reported that Woolwright had defended his controversial actions.
"My love of music and creativity means I have become not only a drummer in a hard rock band, but also a photographer and artist," he says.
"The black face paint has been part of my stage performance for various shows and videos and and has been a developing concept. As with my full body tattoos, it has been a form of expression and a point of difference.
Mediaworks said that Woolright's artistic history is unrelated to the X Factor NZ.
The controversy follows the sacking of X Factor judges Willy Moon and Natalia Kills for "bullying" remarks to a contestant.
The husband and wife caused a storm after they launched a humiliating attack on contestant Joe Irvine. Kills said the 25-year-old had copied her husband "from the hair to the suit" and made her "sick". She also called him a "laughing stock".
Moon then likened Irvine to a creepy killer and said his performance of Cry Me a River was "cheap and absurd".
It is understood the show's sponsors, as well as fellow judges Stan Walker and Melanie Blatt, put extreme pressure on MediaWorks to take action over the incident.
Kills and Moon's departure came hours after the media company announced it would be naming new judges either today or tomorrow.
Andrew Szusterman, the show's co-executive producer, said there had "been an incredible amount of interest from both well-known Kiwi artists and high-profile international acts" to be part of the show.
He also touched on rumours the Sunday night incident had been pre-planned.
"This was not planned. It came as a complete shock, and as we have said and demonstrated by our actions, this type of behaviour is completely unacceptable. The speculation is totally baseless," he said.
Last month TV3 was at the centre of a media storm for minimising the role an X Factor contestant played in the manslaughter of a teenager in 2004. And on Friday it came under fire over revelations one of the contestants on The Bachelor NZ was sentenced to 18 months' jail for stealing almost $40,000 from her employer.
Moon and Kills caused headaches for TV3 outside The X Factor Last week Moon abused an Auckland mother at a bakery, hissing the C-word at her in front of customers and staff.
X Factor producers TV3 issued an apology on Moon's behalf on Friday, saying he regretted the incident and his language, but Moon said at the weekend he was not sorry, and accused the woman, Tracey Neal-Gailer, of lying.