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'How did he get knighted?' - MMA fighter Mark Hunt says Mad Butcher used term 'coconut' for Samoans

MMA fighter Mark Hunt has weighed into to racism row surrounding Sir Peter Leitch, accusing the businessman of using the term 'coconut' in reference to Samoan people when the pair met.

Sir Peter, 72, has been accused of racism over a conversation he had with Lara Wharepapa-Bridger, 23, on Waiheke Island yesterday at Stonyridge Vineyard.

Ms Wharepapa-Bridger posted a video to Facebook where she said Sir Peter had told her it was a "white man's island" and that she should get off it".

Sir Peter disputes that, saying the meaning had been misconstrued - but Ms Wharepapa-Bridger said she was strongly offended.

The businessman yesterday released a statement to media saying he is "extremely disappointed that she 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.

"There is no way I can ever be accused of being racist. ... the irony is that I was with my own granddaughter, who is herself of Ngapuhi heritage."

Mr Hunt today added to the accusations, telling TVNZ's Te Karere he also met Sir Peter at a Warriors game, where Sir Peter asked him "who was the other coconut you fought before?" - referring to Mr Hunt's fight against Ray Sefo.

"He called me a friggin coconut ... you think I'm going to not forget that," Hunt said.

"I saw the guy coming the other way and I thought 'that's the Mad Butcher - I think I'll go say hi," Hunt said.

"And the first words that were out of his mouth were 'what's that coconut that you fought before - you know, that other coconut?

"That really pissed me off because I thought he was a nice person.

"When I saw that post on Facebook about that girl, I was like, oh yeah, that's about right."

Mr Hunt said he had previously looked up to Sir Peter, who has sponsored numerous sports causes through his fund raising work, but the meeting left Mr Hunt angry.

"It ruined my opinion of him - I was so disappointed and let down," Mr hunt said.

"Someone who's supposed to be an outstanding member of society ... how did he get knighted? Why does the Queen knight such an idiot?

"Even if he's done all this work, does that give him the right to go around talking **** to people?"

Sir Peter has not responded to requests for comment on meeting Hunt.

The UFC fighter of Samoan heritage said he was disappointed when he met Sir Peter Leitch after the business used the offensive term. Source: Te Karere


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