Colourful backbench National MP Maurice Williamson has been accused of making sexist and misogynist comments at a conference dinner.

The former minister was the MC at the Esri Users Conference dinner at SkyCity last Tuesday.

A guest told One News that Mr Williamson was making jokes which "made many feel uncomfortable".

Another told One News that Mr Williamson, who was MC for the gala dinner, was acting "like it was a stag do".


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The event's organisers, Eagle Technology, issued an apology which said any offensive comments did not reflect its beliefs and values.

Matt Lythe, the GIS sales manager at Eagle Technology, told the Herald tonight that it was a private matter and the company would not be commenting on it at all.

Under the heading "Please accept our apology", event organisers Eagle Technology sent an email to guests to say sorry for Mr Williamson's actions.

"Corallie Eagle, Duane Eagle and all of the Eagle Technology staff offer our sincere apologies to all who attended the NZEUC Conference Gala Dinner last Tuesday night, for the content and references made by the MC, Maurice Williamson."

It went on to say that Mr Williamson had asked the company to convey his apologies also.

"His intention was certainly not to offend, but rather to entertain and he regrets the offence caused."

The email said Eagle Technology and the dinner organisers were not aware of the content "that was to unfold", and assured guests that any offensive comments or content did not reflect the beliefs and values of the organisation.


Mr Williamson could not be reached for comment tonight, but he did have a post on his Twitter account referencing the event. He posted a picture of himself outside the conference dressed as TV character the Greatest American Hero.

The incident last week was not the first time Mr Williamson's comments have caused a stir.

In a speech at an awards ceremony in 2012, he reportedly joked about Muslims, causing outrage.

"What is the difference between Muslims and Kiwis? Muslims get to commit adultery and get stoned, Kiwis get stoned and commit adultery," he was reported as saying.

He also used the names of Muslim denominations to make a joke about the weather: "Shiite in the morning and Sunni in the afternoon."

In the same speech, Mr Williamson also said attitudes to foreign ownership were often linked to the ethnicity of the buyer.

In 2007, Mr Williamson was forced to apologise for an email he sent responding to a television report on obesity: "If some people can't lose weight no matter what ... how come there were no fat people in the Nazi concentration camps?"

Earlier this year there were reports that Mr Williamson had attempted to join the Act Party. However, he rejected these claims.

Mr Williamson has been the MP for Pakuranga since 1987.

READ MORE: Who is Maurice Williamson?

He is also a former Minister of Research, Science and Technology, Communications, Statistics, Information Technology, Transport, Local Government and Broadcasting.

Mr Williamson resigned as a minister last May following revelations he contacted a top-ranking police officer after businessman Donghau Liu was arrested on domestic violence charges.

He also made international headlines and became an icon for his "big gay rainbow" speech at the final reading of the same-sex marriage bill.

Sue Moroney, Labour's spokeswoman for Women's Affairs, said Prime Minister John Key and Minister for Women Louise Upston should be seeking more details about what caused the apology.

"If the organiser of the event feels embarrassed enough about those comments to have apologised for them, then both the Prime Minister and Minister for Women ought to have a talk with Maurice Williamson and find out exactly what happened.

"If there are allegations of misogyny...clearly Maurice Williamson was asked to MC the event because he is a Member of Parliament, then he is there representing his party. They do need to find out what he said, and address any issues that arise from that."

Ms Moroney said she believed earlier controversy over Mr Key's pulling of a waitress's pony-tail would "make it very difficult for him to raise this issue with MPs like Maurice Williamson".

A spokeswoman for Mr Key said his office had spoken to Mr Williamson about the event.

Mr Key will be holding a media stand-up - already scheduled and not in response to the allegations - later today and is likely to comment further then.