Willie Jackson says Sir Bob Jones 'acting like an idiot' with 'Maori Gratitude Day' idea

Government minister Willie Jackson doubts the Government would strip Sir Bob Jones of his knighthood over his suggestion that a "Maori Gratitude Day" should be introduced in place of Waitangi Day, but says he's "acting like an idiot".

A online petition is demanding the businessman and former politician be stripped of his knighthood because of comments he wrote in a column on a newspaper website.

In an opinion piece in the National Business Review, Sir Bob said: "As there are no full-blooded Maori in existence it indisputably follows that if it had not been for migrants, mainly Brits, not a single Maori alive today, including Professor Temaru, would have existed."

And he suggested a public holiday, 'Maori Gratitude Day', where Maori supply breakfast in bed and do other chores to show gratitude for their existence.

"I have in mind a public holiday where Maori bring us breakfast in bed or weed our gardens, wash and polish our cars and so on, out of gratitude for existing," he wrote.

NBR removed the column, tweeting this was "due to inappropriate content".

The petition organiser, Renae Maihi, told 1 NEWS Sir Bob's column "goes beyond inappropriate".

"Somebody who speaks like that, and writes like that, should not be a sir in our country." 

But Labour MP Willie Jackson believes that would be a step too far.

"People have made mistakes, who have been knights, and so to make him an example of, I don't think is fair. You know I don't think as Government we'd go down that track," he told 1 NEWS.

"Bob really just has to look at himself because he's better than that, and at the moment, he's acting like an idiot." 

Comedian Mike King says what Sir Bob needs 'is our empathy and a warm bowl of custard'. Source: 1 NEWS

Social commentator Mike King said: "I don't think anyone should take seriously what Bob is saying. He's like that doddery old uncle whose social filter is now broken."

1 NEWS went to Sir Bob's Wellington office. He didn't want to appear on camera as he had just had an eye operation. 

But he's standing by his comments, saying he wrote a "perfectly factual thing" and maintained it's not racist.

He said "some things I said are indisputable" and "it's obvious some of the things I said were a piss take", adding that he doesn't hate anyone. He also said the petition is "infantile".

The Human Rights Commission said in a statement Sir Bob Jones and outlets that choose to publish this kind of rhetoric need to be prepared for public backlash that they provoke, and deserve.

Ms Maihi said: "The world that he thinks he lives in, or the country he thinks he lives in, doesn't exist anymore." 

Ms Maihi wants measures put in place to prevent the publishing of such comments and says New Zealand can do better.

The businessman is sticking to his words and others don't believe he should lose his knighthood. Source: 1 NEWS