TVNZ’s Breakfast has issued an apology to Act Leader David Seymour for misquoting him in a panel discussion during the show.
Seymour, while talking to Newstalk ZB last week, referenced his commitment to dismantle the Ministry of Pacific Peoples if elected and then joked, “In my fantasy, we’d send a guy called Guy Fawkes in there and it’d be all over, but we’ll probably have to have a more formal approach than that”.
The allusion to historical figure Guy Fawkes, notorious for attempting to blow up Westminster Palace in London in 1605, prompted Deputy Prime Minister Carmel Sepuloni to criticise the comments as unnecessary and accused Seymour of resorting to divisive tactics.
Act’s deputy leader Brooke van Velden appeared on TVNZ’s Breakfast yesterday alongside Te Pāti Māori co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer and was asked by host Anna Burns-Francis to clarify what her party leader said.
Van Velden said the joke had been “completely blown out of proportion” and was part of a conversation about wasted Government spending. She also challenged Burns-Francis’ interpretation that Seymour jokingly intended to blow up the ministry himself, saying that was “really dangerous” to claim.
Van Velden pointed to an incident last year when Te Pāti Māori co-leader Rawiri Waititi joked about putting poisonous seeds in Seymour’s water, a comment the Act leader at the time said was questionable.
In response, Ngarewa-Packer believed Waititi’s joke was “completely different” and urged Seymour to apologise.
“He should apologise, he knows he should apologise.”
As it turned out, it was TVNZ that issued an apology.
“Yesterday, Act deputy leader Brooke van Velden appeared on our political panel, and among other things we discussed comments made by Act leader David Seymour about the Ministry of Pacific Peoples,” Burns-Francis said on the programme today.
“When I paraphrased his words yesterday, I didn’t get them right.
“We also discussed an incident that occurred at the ministry which for clarity happened before David Seymour made his remarks, not after.
“And for that, we apologise”.
Seymour had earlier said he believed some media organisations are being “deeply irresponsible” in their reporting of his joke about blowing up a government ministry.
However, National leader Christopher Luxon said on Saturday he believed the joke was inappropriate and would have caused offence within the Pasifika community.