A Taupo businessman has apologised "unreservedly" for comments he made about breasts after asking two women to stand in front of the crowd at the Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge prizegiving.
David Steele hosted Saturday's ceremony, which attracted many of the event's 9000 competitors, participants and their supporters.
In a letter to The Daily Post, Auckland competitor Margaret Henley labelled Mr Steele "a misogynist", stating he had publicly ridiculed two women he asked to stand in front of the thousands gathered at Tongariro Domain.
"When they were asked to stand and show the large crowd the enthusiasm with which they dressed up for the event, Steele used the opportunity to inform everyone that they were 'standing abreast' and had 'four breasts between them'," Ms Henley wrote.
"Undaunted by the almost nil crowd response Steele went on to call another woman a 'potato head' when she went up to collect her prize.
"It is not sufficient to dismiss Steele's misogynist display as just harmless 'blokey humour'." Using his role as MC to publicly ridicule women's physical appearance at a significant sports event was not humour and "all the blokes around us were deeply unimpressed", she stated in her letter.
Mr Steele, who this year won Business Person of the Year at the Great Lake Taupo Business Awards, has apologised to Cycle Challenge organisers via email in response to one highlighting the event's successes.
"I sincerely apologise if I undid the good work of you all with some of my comments at prizegiving," he wrote.
"Unfortunately, in my attempts to lighten the proceedings I obviously overstepped the mark. I also apologise to my co-host [Dougal Morrison] who was professional as always. It was a great event and you all do a sensational job."
He told The Daily Post he had not set out to upset anyone.
"If I have offended anyone I apologise unreservedly. It's a great event and so many people work hard. I wouldn't want to tarnish the event."
According to Mr Steele's business website he and his colleagues are known in the community for getting behind events.
Mr Steele is a trustee of the King of the Ring Charitable Trust, Nutters Club NZ Charitable Trust, Lake Taupo Development Trust and he has been a judge at the Taupo District Sports Awards for some years.
"We would like to apologise for any offence taken at the prizegiving presented by MC David Steele," said Kay Brake, Cycle Challenge event director, in a statement to The Daily Post.
"His comments in no way reflect the views and philosophy of the Cycle Challenge," she stated.