By Eruera Rerekura – | @erurerekura

Fallout from a prominent businessman’s anti-Māori comments ramped up another level on Tuesday.

Politicians and Māori leaders have jointly condemned a speech made by Sir William Gallagher to a group of businesspeople.

It also caused a Waikato-Tainui kaumātua to stage a dramatic protest at the Gallagher Group head office in Hamilton.

Timi Te Maipi donned a homemade Klu Klux Klan costume and made his presence known at the premises.

“I was very disappointed that Sir William Gallagher decided to make these racist comments and I just wanted to highlight it by wearing the KKK outfit,” Mr Te Maipi told Te Karere.

Mr Te Maipi said Sir William’s comments offended him because the Waikato-Tainui rohe was an area that was confiscated by the Crown and plundered by his ancestors.

Sir William is the Chief Executive of the Gallagher Group a major company that specialises in animal management, fuel systems and security, distributing their products and services internationally.

In a speech to businesspeople, including those who hold Māori governance roles, he said he thought the Treaty of Waitangi was farcical, that Māori had ceded their sovereignty to the Crown, and questioned what Māori identity meant.

The chairperson of the Federation of Māori Authorities (FoMA), Traci Houpapa, was one of those present during Sir William’s speech.

“I was disappointed that in this day and age a leader of his stature and nature, of his accomplishments and achievements, the deep and longer relationship that Gallagher’s had had with ahuwhenua Māori (Māori farming sector) that he still held those views.”

FoMA is an organisation that represents 150 members leading the way in primary industries that includes fishing, forestry, farming, and dairy; contributing to the $50 billion Māori economy.

She told Te Karere that some of FoMA’s members were considering boycotting the Gallagher Group.

“Some of our members have indicated that they are reviewing their engagement and their purchase and supply arrangements with businesses like Gallagher’s because of comments like this,” Ms Houpapa told Te Karere.

Māori MPs were also quick to criticise Sir William’s comments saying he had an antiquated view of Māori society.

“It’s dated stuff you know that belongs years ago or last century,” National MP Tutehounuku Korako said.

Labour MP Tamati Coffey agreed:

“Part of me cringes as well when I hear Dr Don Brash also putting his five cents in too – completely out of date – out of touch and out of date.”

Waikato-Tainui leader Timi Te Maipi had some advice for Sir William Gallagher:

“Just because he’s a multi-millionaire, and I think that’s where he was coming from, he can say what he likes – and I don’t have a problem with that – but be careful what you say, especially in Tainui.”

Te Karere attempted to get the Gallagher Group’s side of the story, but no-one replied.