Hundred of protesting farmers were called "incredibly vitriolic" and "rednecks" by Regional Economic Minister Shane Jones, after they booed him outside Parliament today.
The group called '50 Shades of Green' had about 500 people turn up at Parliament to protest emission reduction targets, water regulation and the Billion Trees Programme. They were also calling for better rural mental health services.
Numerous MPs met the group, however Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor and Mr Jones, who also serves as the Forestry Minister, were booed by the crowd.
Mr Jones sang Tūtira Mai Ngā Iwi over the boos.
Mr Jones acknowledged the awkward encounter aferwards, telling media "this turned into a bit of a burlesque sort of a show".
He said the crowd had concerns about the pace of change of the Zero Carbon Bill and who would cover the costs - "that's why I would never want to see a form of Rogernomics with blitzkrieg approach. I don't think we're doing that in terms of forestry".
"I'm more than willing to go back and moderate the ragged edges."
When asked why he sung to the crowd, Mr Jones said he "thought the speeches went on too long".
"I wasn't deliberately moving on from 'annoyed the immigrants' to 'antagonising the rednecks'. I'm a Māori.
"The protest group were incredibly vitriolic. I think they were very insulting to Damien O’Connor, but it’s like they were sucking up to the National Party the way they were carrying on against the Prime Minister and the Government.
When asked why he called them rednecks, he said "the reality is those attitudes is Ngāti redneckery".
"If you want to influence policy and you want to work with the Government, don’t come in such a vitriolic, insulting way."
Mr Jones has recently been under fire after telling RNZ "if you don't like it and you're threatening to go home, then catch the next flight home", in reference to concerns from the Indian community over visa changes.