Woman sued by Sir Bob Jones for calling him a racist tears up at defamation trial

Renae Maihi, the woman Sir Bob Jones is suing for defamation, became emotional as she gave evidence in court today, outlining why she believes the wealthy businessman is racist.

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Renae Maihi outlined why she believes the wealthy businessman is a racist. Source: 1 NEWS

Also giving evidence today was the man who wrote Once Were Warriors, Alan Duff.

Through the trial, the courtroom is grappling with what's racist and what's not.

Today Ms Maihi detailed her experiences of racism before explaining how Sir Bob's newspaper column hurt her.

"I found the imagery of servitude and slavery of the column invoked to be offensive and racist," she told the court.

In the 2018 column, Sir Bob said Waitangi Day should be replaced with Māori Gratitude Day, and Māori bring Pākehā breakfast in bed. 

He says it was clearly a joke.

"I recognise the author is not seriously calling for Māori to bring breakfast in bed. I nevertheless knew the imagery of Māori servitude was racist and it would empower sections of society and inflaming anti-Māori views," Ms Maihi said.

Her petition in response to the column called Sir Bob racist, an author of hate speech and for his knighthood to be stripped.

Sir Bob says she defamed him, motivated by attention. 

"I have in no way enjoyed the attention, nor the publicity that came with starting the petition," Ms Maihi told the court today.

"I spoke out to defend the mana of my people."

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The property tycoon has accused filmmaker Renae Maihi of damaging his reputation by calling him a racist. Source: 1 NEWS

The defence argues Ms Maihi calling Sir Bob racist is her honest opinion and the truth.

It also points to more than 50 articles where Sir Bob made controversial comments about Māori.

"What was said by Sir Robert in the early days could not properly be said now without immediately being described as racist," defence lawyer Davey Salmon said today.

The defence also argued joking doesn't diffuse racism.

"The question about Sir Robert's jokes is not whether they were jokes or not. Of course no one thought they were expecting breakfast in bed. The question is what the target is," Mr Salmon says.

Sir Bob wasn't in court today, but the man whose book he's been carrying was.

Alan Duff, author of Once Were Warriors, said he didn't always find his friend's columns funny, but insisted he's not racist.

"There is an element in this country that wallows in playing the victim, taking offence and everything and anything. This element I believe is trying to shut down voices like mine and Bob's," he told the court.

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Sir Bob Jones accuses Renae Maihi of damaging his reputation when she labelled him racist. Source: 1 NEWS

The defence continues tomorrow.