Susan Devoy: Peter Leitch needs to 'do the right thing' over racism row video

David White/Fairfax NZ

Dame Susan Devoy speaks on the Mad Butcher racist comment acusation

Sir Peter Leitch needs to "do the right thing" and meet the woman who accused him of using racist terms, according to Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy.

A race row erupted when Maori woman Lara Bridger accused Leitch, the Mad Butcher founder, of telling her Waiheke was a "white man's island".

On Thursday afternoon, after attending the funeral of three people who died in a house fire in south Auckland, Devoy said Leitch needed to "do the right thing", reiterate his apology, and meet with Bridger to make it right because he's "that kind of person".

Dame Susan Devoy said of Leitch: "The last thing he would have wanted in the world was to offend someone".
CHRIS SKELTON/STUFF

Dame Susan Devoy said of Leitch: "The last thing he would have wanted in the world was to offend someone".

Devoy said Leitch made a racist and offensive comment, but he was not a racist.

READ MORE:
* Maori woman 'barely coffee-coloured', says Sir Peter Leitch's spokeswoman
Heated debate in Mad Butcher 'racism' row
Sir Peter Leitch says 'racist' comments were misinterpreted 
Monty Betham backs Leitch: he's no racist

"He made a mistake and I'm sure he acknowledges that.

Sir Peter Leitch, founder of the Mad Butcher, has been embroiled in controversy after his comments to Maori woman Lara ...
FAIRFAX NZ

Sir Peter Leitch, founder of the Mad Butcher, has been embroiled in controversy after his comments to Maori woman Lara Bridger.

"Don't let one thing cast a shadow on his entire life," she said. 

Devoy said we can all do or say the wrong thing at times, and if we offend someone we should do the right thing and apologise. 

Earlier in the day, Devoy entered the debate on Radio New Zealand, saying she knew Leitch personally and he often used light-hearted banter, which could be misinterpreted.

JASON DORDAY/Stuff.co.nz

We asked shoppers at the Mad Butcher's Manukau store what they thought about the argument between Sir Peter Leitch and Lara Bridger.

"The last thing he would have wanted in the world was to offend someone, I know that," she told Radio New Zealand.

Ad Feedback

However Devoy changed her stance just hours after the radio interview, releasing a statement calling Leitch's comments casual racism.

Leitch needed to "fix" the issue, she said in the statement.

SUMMER REPORT/RNZ

The woman at the centre of the incident, Lara Wharepapa-Bridger, has denied she could have misinterpreted Sir Peter's comments.

"The thing about so-called casual racism is that it doesn't feel very casual if it happens to you or your family as Lara [Bridger] has shown us," she said.

"I know Sir Peter and while I believe he's a very good person at heart: that thing he did was offensive to Lara and it needs to be fixed up.

"I am confident he will do this and it's great to hear the local iwi are able to help mediate as are our own commission mediators.

"It is pretty clear he had no idea how offensive his words were but he will definitely know this now."

'DEATH THREATS'

Meanwhile, Bridger said she has had death threats since she posted a tearful video describing her version of what happened at Stoneyridge Vineyard on Waiheke Island on Tuesday.

Leitch responded with a statement saying Bridger had "misinterpreted some light-hearted banter".

"I was joking with her group about not drinking too much because there were lots of police on the island," he said.

"She said that she was tangata whenua and could do what she liked, and I responded with a joke about it being a white man's island also. This was not a serious comment and was only ever intended to be light-hearted banter.

"When she later informed me she was offended by my comment I apologised unreservedly."

'BARELY COFFEE-COLOURED'

In the ongoing fall out from the story, Leitch's spokeswoman Michelle Boag was on Wednesday night also accused of racism for saying Bridger was "barely coffee-coloured".

Boag - a prominent Auckland public relations specialist and former president of the National Party - told Maori TV that Leitch had not racially profiled Bridger.

However she later said her remarks had been misconstrued.

"[Maori TV] took my response out of context.

"They did not report that I made that comment purely in response to her saying, 'he made a beeline for me because I was black'.

"I said 'that's a ridiculous comment, she's barely coffee-coloured'."

Devoy criticised Boag's comments, saying they were "out of line".

"This is quite an ignorant thing to say, someone's skin colour has nothing to do with anyone else except that person. Your colour doesn't define your ethnicity or your culture."

'UNLIKELY TO HAVE ANY LONGEVITY'

A marketing expert said both Leitch and Boag were likely to escape the controversy without any major repercussions.

University of Auckland marketing senior lecturer Bodo Lang said while the story had quickly been elevated to a national debate, it would disappear just as swiftly.

"Unless other people come forward and were able to string evidence together this is unlikely to have any longevity.

"If there was a string of evidence then I think the public discourse would swing on this and I think Leitch would have to do something more substantial and maybe issue an apology."

Of the coffee comment, Lang said Boag had clearly made a "blunder".

"I think that's very unfortunate wording on behalf of a spokesperson. She could have chosen much more careful wording."

The saga was not likely to impact the Mad Butcher business at all, Lang said.

"The people who go and buy products from the Mad Butcher are probably not particularly driven by ethical concerns or accusations of racism.

"I think if it was an accusation of unsafe work practices and it was proven then there definitely would be an impact. But I think really it's pretty peripheral, it's an accusation from one person.

"The impact on the business is negligible, it's probably nothing at all."

 - Stuff

Ad Feedback
special offers
Auckland

Rush-hour rain in Auckland, Dunedin

Commuters are being advised to take care on their way home.

Weather fronts are bearing down on both Auckland and Dunedin.

Planning for 30,000 people

Rodney Local Board deputy chairman Phelan Pirrie says the board have been waiting to sign-off on the plan for about a year.

Politicians have started preparing Kumeū-Huapai for a looming influx of people.

'Distasteful' by-elections triggered

Auckland councillor Denise Lee is National's MP for Maungakiekie.

The general election will trigger two Auckland Council by-elections, but it could have been much worse. 

Millionaires' playground warning

Moving the rural urban boundary would allow for a 1000-house development adjacent to the marine reserve.

A developer says its proposal for 1000 houses would be better for pristine Okura than the council's proposed gated community.

Wellington

Gorge options discussed

The 13 alternative route options are available for public viewing and comment on the NZTA website.

Thirteen alternative routes to the Manawatū Gorge have been laid out for the public to discuss.

'A lovely, caring man'

Sid Hanzlik, who died after a small fire outside parliament, is understood to have been aggrieved after dealings with ...

Neighbour tells of shock at death of Sid Hanzlik after fire on Parliament grounds.

Kāpiti traffic delays on SH1

Delays are expected on State Highway 1 between Otaki and Paraparaumu following a truck crash. (File photo)

Truck crash reduces speeds on State Highway 1 between Ōtaki and Paraparaumu.

Compulsory te reo at Welly school

More than 250 year 9 students at Wellington Girls' College will learn Māori for at least half the school year in 2018. ...

From next year, more than 250 year 9s at Wellington Girls' College will learn Māori.

Canterbury

Fight to stay in the country video

Seamus Robertson with his fiancee, Pham Thu Thuong Nguyen, at his father's property in Eyrewell, where the couple have ...

Man faces having to leave his terminally ill father to be with the woman he loves after her visa was declined.

Screams during killing

The body of Marcus Luke Tucker, 36, was found bound and wrapped in carpet near Lake Ellesmere on Anzac Day 2016.

Woman breaks down in court recounting her friend screaming for help during a fatal bashing in her bedroom.

Suspect beaten up behind bars

Kasha William Gosset, 35, is one of two men charged with the murder of Bradley Lomax, 24.

Several prisoners assaulted a man charged with Bradley Lomax's murder.

Religion-in-schools protested

Tanya Jacob is spearheading a campaign to warn parents about religious teaching in schools. (File photo)

Group claims children told to donate pocket money and evangelise, but provider says they are misinformed.

Waikato

Helping hand through Hangman 

Kiwi MMA star Dan Hooker will help train fighters for the Hangman Challenge.

Dave Sawyer wants to help those "that are in a bad place" through his MMA event.

Huge egg farm plan

Mainland Poultry say their proposed new farm in North Waikato will be cage-free and cause "less than minor" disruption ...

A massive egg laying farm is proposed for North Waikato but not everyone is happy.

Bitter blow for Māori

Te Ururoa Flavell concedes to Tamati Coffey

OPINION: Te Ururoa Flavell and Marama Fox were truly independent voices but will no longer be heard

Fonterra 'fat cat' jibe

Theo Spierings and Winston Peters

The kingmaker Winston Peters slams the king of dairy's $8.32m pay packet.

Taranaki

Fight for flower power

19092017   News   photo: Warwick Smith/Stuff
Orchid grower Alan Rae in his propagation shelter amongst his cymbidium ...

 OPINION: Where does your florist source their flowers?

Prankster set off alarm

A crowd enjoys the outside fire at New Plymouth's Snug Lounge. (file photo).

When someone set off the alarm in a bar toilet patrons were evacuated, most came back to pay their tabs.

Stress forcing principals out

Lepperton Primary School principal Charles Gibson says he has been congratulated by other principals for getting out of ...

Principal Charles Gibson is leaving his job, and he's had more congratulations than commiserations.

New car wash will be 'EZE'

EZE Wash in Waiwhakaiho is taking shape.

A new structure is set to bring five self-service car washing bays to New Plymouth.

Manawatu

Two awards in one week

Heather Knox with co-founding Palmy Rocker Kate Parlane setting up August's "Palmy Rocks: We Are One" photo exhibition.

Palmy Rocks' Heather Knox would like council to have a comprehensive play policy

Fatal driving admitted

Josh McGinty, 17, died after the driver of the car he was in failed to give way at an intersection.

Restricted driver failing to give way results in the death of her passenger.

Cancer patient fighting to live video

Kerry McGrath wants to live her dream and travel the country in her house bus. But she needs some help to do so.

Kerry McGrath just wants to get to living in her gypsy house bus, cancer-free.

Manawatū Gorge: Your thoughts stuff nation

What should be done about the Manawatū Gorge?

We want to hear your thoughts, experiences and ideas about this beautiful, yet geologically unstable, landmark.

Nelson

Farmers' Market heads riverside

Miriam Clark, manager of Nelson Farmers Market, in Morrison Square.

Nelson's Farmers' Market is to shift from the CBD to a new riverside location.

Fire prompts reminder

The fire that took hold of a house in Washington Valley is thought to have started when embers were blown underneath the ...

Ceiling fire in Nelson a strong message about clean chimneys says Fire Service.

Ice pilot Leachman laid to rest

The acting Chief of the Royal New Zealand Navy James Gilmour, left, and fellow Navy officers salute the late Andrew ...

Friends and family of Andrew Leachman farewelled a man whose life was as musical as it was nautical.

Robbery "look-out" pleads guilty

Jacob Harmon has admitted to playing a role in a recent armed robbery in Nelson.

Judge tells man who played "look out" for an armed robbery that jail time is likely.

Marlborough

Little town the sculptor forgot video

Twisted iron from the quake-damaged railway line bears the names of affected townships around Kaikōura, including Oaro, ...

It's not the first, and it probably won't be the last, time someone has asked 'where's Rakautara?' But this time, it's a resident asking.

Muddy cover-up fails

Reid Kevin Heyward has been caught poaching up the Awatere Valley in Marlborough. (File photo)

The number plates were carefully covered in mud so no-one could identify the truck. But then the farmer showed up.

Threatened for testifying

Police target boy racers doing burnouts on public roads. (File photo)

"Good luck, you're stuck with me forever," says teen, as she threatens to send her boy racer mates around.

Grape result for young vintner

Young Winemaker of the Year winner Kelsey Daniels from Vinlink Marlborough works on her blending skills.

A Marlborough vintner keeps young winemaker award in the region.

South Canterbury

Swooping magpies concern

Shirley Halkett is dive bombed by a protective magpie while cycling in the Scenic Reserve.

Cyclists call for signage warning of the dangers of nesting magpies in a Timaru reserve.

Fine weather back

A severe weather warning was in place for heavy winds in Canterbury on Monday morning.

The majority of South Canterbury is expected to have fine weather on Tuesday.

Event fundraiser a success

Olympian Jock Paget claybird shooting at Craigmore Station before the first fundraiser for a proposed $250,000 new ...

First fundraiser for proposed eventing venue an 'absolute success', spokeswoman says.

Expo burglary disappoints

The Caroline Bay Hall was being used for the Big Brand Surf, Street, Skate Clothing & Shoes Sale Expo, run by company ...

More than $1000 worth of clothing stolen from clothing expo at Caroline Bay Hall.

Otago

Car parking restrictions coming

Queenstown Lakes District Council proposed to build three new bus stops on Camp St, two near Shotover St roundabout.

"To make transport more efficient, economic and possibly more enjoyable, a behavioural change is required." Tony Pickard

Exit package prompts questions

Under-fire Aurora Energy chief executive Grady Cameron.

Dunedin councillors have questioned a golden handshake to an outgoing chief executive of an under-fire lines company.

Premises needed for Frankton library

There's a "real desire" for a library in Frankton, Queenstown Lakes District Council say.

Expression of interest for a short-term Frankton Library in Queenstown is open.

Dashed wedding turnaround

Central Otago Wedding Fair 'Dream Wedding' winners Ashleigh Sinclair and Jai Beck, of Clyde.

A Clyde couple who cancelled their wedding after falling pregnant will still get to walk down the aisle.

Southland

Craig focus remains on health, housing

Labour candidate for Invercargill Dr Liz Craig at the Newfield Tavern in Invercargill on election night, who is to ...

New MP looking forward to working for Invercargill constituents.

Policy considered

The council introduced its captive bolt gun policy in April 2016, with the support of the local branch of SPCA.

An urgent recommendation on the Invercargill City Council's dog euthanasia policy is expected to be put forward at a meeting this afternoon.

Centenarian gains family

Wallace Price, left, with his son Graeme at the Grasmere Kindergarten to vote in the 2017 general election.

Among the gifts Wallace Price received for his 100th birthday he got a whole new side to the family.

They're 'flooding my family farm' video

Looking out over the Hollyburn creek which has been flooded by water from the Waiau river.

Every time Meridian Energy releases the Manapouri dam, Thomas O'Brien loses another chunk of farmland.

Ad Feedback