A New Conservative ad comparing candidate Murray Chong to great historical figures such as Martin Luther King has drawn outrage online.
Chong, a controversial member of the New Plymouth District Council, is known for his resistance to Māori wards on the council, flying the confederate flag and for announcing he was "ashamed" to sing the Māori version of the national anthem.
In 2018 he revealed why he was happy flying the Confederate flag as well as his decision to defend blackface being used in a Hawera parade.
Last year he posted on Facebook he was ashamed of singing the national anthem in te reo, and said he only needed to sing the "original version".
He later apologised for his comments in a statement, after a petition was started to boot him from the council.
Now, an election advertisement comparing him to Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela and Abraham Lincoln is making waves on social media.
The image shows a picture of all four, with the caption "those who have fought for equality".
Chong told the Herald the picture was posted on the New Conservative NZ Facebook page, but not by him. It now appears to have been removed.
He said he did not make the ad himself, and suspected it was a "tongue in cheek" post by the party's deputy leader, Elliot Ikilei.
"I saw that yesterday and I thought 'who did that?'
"At the end of the day it's quite funny because I've always quoted Nelson Mandela about we need to judge people on the character of themselves, rather than the colour of their skin."
The quote Chong referred to actually came from Martin Luther King in his famous "I have a dream" speech.
"All those leaders worked to bring people up so they are all the same ... rather than in New Zealand where we've actually gone overboard and given them more than the average person."
Chong said there were two ways of looking at the post, and he took the positive direction.
"I feel a bit awkward that I'm putting up with those people at that level."
He did not believe that was the intention of the post.
Ikilei said the idea behind the post was to show despite the different ideologies and "lines of thought", they were still supporters of equality just like the other characters in the picture.
He removed the post, though, when the message became lost amid debate over communism and other issues.
"People started to equate each of the historical figures with their own issues around that particular historical character."
He intended to show that people fighting for equality "can be great, can be small, can be anything in between".
"The idea was for people to actually get the provocation aspect.
"I do love provocation and some good, wholesome free speech."
The image, while no longer visible on the Facebook page, has been shared by other social media users.
"I'm gasping, they're beyond parody," one Twitter user wrote.
"Mandela. Malcolm X. Martin. Malala. Murray."
On Reddit, people were questioning whether the post was real.
"The NC's are actually insane," one user wrote.
"Well, a quick scroll of their Facebook page suggests they're standing a lot of old, white male candidates. My favourite kind of people to vote for because they're so good with change," another said.