The Gisborne district councillor alleged to have said "not enough" local Māori were killed by crew of the Endeavour has denied making the comment, and says his colleague is trying to discredit him.
Gisborne District Council today held an extraordinary meeting to discuss a code of conduct review decision released last week into the alleged comments, which kept its findings and the name of the councillors concerned excluded from the public.
The process was initiated after councillor Meredith-Akuhata Brown claimed she overheard a colleague say not enough Māori were killed by members of the Endeavour crew in 1769.
During today's meeting some councillors expressed the view the council should go ahead and release the board's report, despite the fact that it had been threatened with a defamation action if the councillor's name was released.
During the meeting councillor Bill Burdett inadvertently named the councillor involved when he asked, "are we as a council going to hang Malcolm out to dry?"
Deputy mayor Rehette Stoltz then said: "You've just said the name - just let it slip."
Councillor Malcolm MacLean this afternoon confirmed to the Herald he was the person alleged to have made the comment and the defamation threat.
He denied saying "not enough" Māori were killed.
"My actual comment was, 'Lucky no more were killed with what confronted them'.
"This comment was made during a lunch break in a very mumbled private conversation.
"Clearly Akuhata-Brown thinks she heard what was said, however I know what I said.
"It took her six days to code me. Why did she not say she objected to what she thought I said at the time?"
He said on August 9 he apologised to Akuhata-Brown, saying: "If what I have said has been hurtful to you then I sincerely apologise for that hurt."
"She accepted that apology and thanked me for facing her," MacLean said.
"I have also been hurt for someone saying something that I never said.
"I am in no doubt that she is endeavouring to discredit me as a councillor and the work I also do in the community.
"I will continue to serve the district to the best of my ability."
During today's meeting, Akuhata-Brown said she stood by her comments and did not accept the apology made by the councillor, which was made at a meeting between the two of them and Stoltz.
"I believed when it was offered it was an admission, an apology for the offensive comments made, but that apology was backhanded."
She now also realised she should have spoken up when she heard the comment made to another councillor.
She had not spoken up at the previous meeting to discuss the report because she was cognisant of the process the council had gone through and felt bound by it.
She was in tears when she got to the carpark after the previous meeting, and a racist email she received "nudged" her in the direction of speaking out again.
"[The email] said New Zealand would be better off if all Māori were dead.
"We still have people, who still hold on to such strong, colonial views around Māori."
Despite the code of conduct review process, she believed she had the right to express her views.
"It is a public interest issue. Like all generational things, unless we make a stand now, change won't happen.
"I am standing by this because I am tired. I have spent five years in this institution. I love the opportunity to be part of conversation governing this region but I cannot sit there any more and allow such wrong views to go by.
"I think it is really important that I stand now for the future of my children and their children."
She had heard over and over comments "in this place" that were detrimental to the wellbeing of Māori.
"I won't let these comments be said to our people, who are still struggling.
"I am not prepared to let those comments be a 'throwaway'. This is our time to stand up and say racism won't be part of this council.
"I am a true Kiwi. I was born in this place and I believe I am the person who should front this."
Stoltz, who chaired the review board, said she had received racial abuse after the original decision of the council to not release the report, which would name the councillor involved.
The council today decided to call an extraordinary meeting tomorrow, at which a motion to release the minutes of the previous meeting including the report of the review board will be put and is likely to be carried.
The minutes would contain the name of the councillor who Akuhata-Brown said made the comment.