Wanganui Mayor Michael Laws has hit back at reports he suggested all beneficiaries be sterilised, saying his comments were misinterpreted.
Mr Laws raised the idea of sterilisation for the "underclass" in exchange for a $10,000 payment as a solution to the child abuse problem.
He offered his observations after he was approached by The Dominion Post for comment on the death of two-year-old Wanganui boy Karl Perigo-Check, the son of a convicted murderer and gang member.
When asked to define "underclass", his explanation was: "A group of people who have no stake in our society, who are certainly welfare dependent, who have alcohol and drug problems and usually are criminals or consort with criminals."
He was reported as saying "the children of beneficiaries, drug addicts and criminals had little chance in life", which he said was misleading.
In a statement today, Mr Laws said most welfare beneficiaries are good parents.
"Most beneficiaries regard the benefit as a temporary arrangement. But there are some who regard it as a lifestyle, who abuse it and their children. They were the target of my comments yesterday."
He stood by his comments that the underclass he described be sterilised.
"There is a group within our society who give their children no hope nor opportunity from the moment that they are born. Hundreds of children are removed from their parents' care every year and thousands more come to CYFS attention because of cruelty, drug and drink addiction, violence and repeated abuse.
"It would be far better for this appalling underclass to be offered financial inducements not to have children, given the toxic environment that they would provide for any child in their care ... this is the group most likely to place their children in harm's way and to be killed and/or abused.
"There are too many people who should not have children."
- The Dominion Post