Incoming Auckland Art Gallery boss withdraws from role in wake of Canada harassment accusation

Gregory Burke, who was set to take over as the director of Auckland Art Gallery next month, has withdrawn his application for the role.

Gregory Burke Source: Auckland Council

His withdrawal comes in the wake of a workplace harassment allegation against him which is being investigated by the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

In a statement, Mr Burke told 1 NEWS "as I await the opportunity to address an unproven allegation against me and clear any speculation of wrongdoing, I am withdrawing my application for Director of Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki from consideration".

Mr Burke is chief executive and executive director of the Remai Modern Art Museum (previously called the Mendel Art Gallery) in Saskatoon, Canada, where he has worked since 2013.

Canadian Network CBC News is reporting the complaint being looked into by the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission is from a woman Mr Burke worked with during that time.

She has not been identified and her allegation has not been proven in court.

CBC News says the commission document it has obtained does not detail the specifics of the allegation being investigated.

"I am concerned that the attention caused by this allegation has created a distraction for the [Auckland Art] gallery's board and staff and, out of respect for them and the institution, I believe that this is the right thing to do" Mr Burke said.

"I thank everyone involved in the selection process and wish them well."

In a previous statement he told 1 NEWS he is cooperating with the investigation process, but is "eager to clear any speculation of wrongdoing since the allegation has been incorrectly characterised in media reports".

Due to the sensitivities involved, he says can't speak publicly about the situation until the process is complete.

Regional Facilities Auckland, which runs the gallery, told 1 NEWS it "accepts Gregory's decision and wishes him the best for the future.

"Our focus, as always, is on the exciting opportunities ahead for Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki, as we recommence our search for a new Gallery Director," they said.