The Canterbury businessman who ignited a nationwide furore last week, after publishing a racist rant that called Māori the “scurge [sic] of New Zealand”, is officially quitting his brewing company.
An email sent to shareholders late last night announced David Gaughan would resign his position as owner and director of Eagle Brewing in Kaiapoi and would be “leaving the business altogether”.
In the note, his partner, Marilyn, wrote that they had met with lawyers and the company was aiming to appoint an independent director by the end of the week, with the brand name to change “to distance itself from Eagle”.
She added that “unfortunately we will also be separating in our relationship”, and said she will now receive Gaughan’s shares and be the majority shareholder and director.
It comes after Eagle products were pulled from major retailers and suppliers in response to a racist post Gaughan wrote on Facebook, claiming "Māori are New Zealand’s biggest problem” and “the quicker we put them in prison the better”.
The post went viral and he was quickly condemned for his comments, with thousands of people responding online and well-known figures chiming in to refute the comments.
The brewer later publicly apologised, saying it had happened in an explosion of emotion, and he didn’t mean what he said.
However, in a private email to shareholders, where recipients were directed to keep the contents “confidential”, the company elaborated further.
The announcement, since obtained by 1 NEWS, described the last few days as “immensely challenging for all of us” and said Gaughan was “heartbroken with the situation”.
“Dave’s post on Facebook was a car crash post, done at the wrong end of a long day and under some mental stress and anxiety,” it went on.
“It came across as racist, but that was never his intention. Dave is passionate about certain subjects. If he wasn't we wouldn't have the business we have now, it is thanks to his drive and passion.”
The author – Gaughan’s partner Marilyn – continues to try and add context to the racist outburst, claiming “most of us would admit that serious crime is escalating in NZ”.
“Gang culture to petty crime is all on the rise. Dave worries about this and feels strongly about the dangers that we all face in daily life,” it read.
“One of the main reasons Dave came to NZ was to get away from this kind of threat for him and his family, only to find 15 years on that NZ is catching up fast.”
Finally, the notice requests “continued support as we enter another chapter”, saying the search for a new brewer and sales rep had already begun.
The business would not buy back shares, but would aim to facilitate sales to others, it said.