Mana Party leader Hone Harawira has apologised for calling the row over a sexual assault charge against a diplomat "bugger all."
The Te Tai Tokerau MP made the remarks on political panel show Backbenches last week.
Asked on the show about the political storm around alleged attacker Muhammad Rizalman bin Ismail, Harawira said: "I think all of the media, their heads should roll for making a big fuss about bugger all."
The country was facing more pressing matters such as "kids starving", he said.
Harawira added: "Let's just keep it there, it's allegedly, and so until such time that this sorts its self out, let's get on with running the country in the best interests of all off the citizens."
Now Harawira says he made a "big mistake" and praised Tania Billingsley, the 22-year-old victim of the alleged attack, for speaking out about mishandling of the case.
Billingsley spoke on TV3's Third Degree programme last night about the events surrounding the granting of diplomatic immunity to the diplomat.
In a Facebook post this morning, Harawira said: "I want to sincerely apologise if my comments on Backbenches may seem to have minimised the gravity of the situation regarding the young woman who asked police to investigate the complaint of sexual assault against the Malaysian diplomat.
"I have reviewed the tape and I accept that my comments were not helpful at all.
"Sexual assault IS a big deal, and I applaud Tania Rose Billingsley for her brave and courageous appearance on television last night."
Internet Party leader Laila Harre, who has formed a political alliance with Harawira, said the apology was "very sincere."
In a tweet, she added: "Kia haha [sic] to Ms Billingsley."
Would you cast a tactical vote against your preferred party?Related story: Fringe parties look for deals