A reporter on TVNZ's Breakfast programme has apologised on-air after making a comment about a woman's appearance.

Wilson Longhurst was presenting a story about an Australian woman whose ex-boyfriend took revenge when she dumped him. The boyfriend created a Star Wars-themed prank, and advertised a pretend Chewbacca roaring contest with a $1000 prize, printing his ex's phone number on the flyer.

However, things turned sour when Longhurst said: "What a prize Jessica is, with all her teeth and her hair," referring to the woman in the story.

His comments earned him a stern warning from presenter John Campbell, who said: "This isn't a eugenics competition," and told Longhurst to "get out."

Advertisement

"I'll be having a little bit of a chat with Wilson later."

Longhurst later apologised on air for the comments, and said he regretted what he said.

John Campbell endorsed Longhurt's apology. Photo / TVNZ
John Campbell endorsed Longhurt's apology. Photo / TVNZ

Sitting on the "naughty step", he told viewers:

"What I said wasn't funny, it was quite frankly something that just slipped out, but it was a misogynistic comment and I'm sorry," he said.

He added his comments "weren't good enough", and that he was "really disappointed" in himself. He directly apologised to viewers who had written into the show with their feedback.

Campbell and co-presenter Hayley Holt responded to his apology.

Wilson Longhurst apologised for his comments about a woman named Jessica in the story. Photo / TVNZ
Wilson Longhurst apologised for his comments about a woman named Jessica in the story. Photo / TVNZ

Campbell said: "I think it's important to clarify what we stand for on Breakfast, and that is we don't punch down. Our targets are never soft. And I think that's something we're really proud of on this programme – it's a safe place, and we like to speak truth to power."

Holt said Longhurst's apology was important.

Advertisement

"It's not what we do, it's how we respond afterwards. If you are feeling sorry and you're going to learn from this episode, then you're OK."

In a statement to media, TVNZ said: "Breakfast TV is a live environment and involves some sleep-deprived reporting. Wilson made a comment he immediately regretted and he wished to make an apology on air. Our producers agreed this was the right thing to do."