The woman who accused 'Mad Butcher' Sir Peter Leitch of racism, this morning denied telling him being tangata whenua enabled her to do what she liked.

Auckland woman Lara Bridger posted a video on social media yesterday claiming Sir Peter had told her Waiheke Island was a "white man's island".

In a statement issued last night, Sir Peter said he was "extremely disappointed that a young woman had misinterpreted some light-hearted banter".

"I was joking with her group about not drinking too much because there were lots of police on the island. She said that she was tangata whenua and could do what she liked, and I responded with a joke about it being a white man's island also.


"When she later informed me she was offended by my comment I apologised unreservedly. There is no way I can ever be accused of being racist."

However, in a Facebook post this morning Bridger disputed that version of events.

"Record straight I did NOT say 'I could do what I like' he came at us with a whole you're not a local in which I responded "yeah I'm tangata whenua born here mate 23 years ago".

The 23-year-old Maori woman was at a wine-tasting with her mother and sister at Stonyridge Vineyard when they spotted Sir Peter eating lunch with his family.

She said that when they went to leave Sir Peter approached them and began making conversation, during which he warned them not to drink and drive before going on to say they must not be local.

"I go 'Yeah, I'm actually born here'. That's when he said 'Well this is a white man's island and you should acknowledge that'," she said.

In this morning's post Bridger said she refused to "acknowledge that".

"Sorry this place is for everyone. And when you're standing over someone pointing at them in the face with a stern tone I didn't take it as light banter ..."


Bridger removed the video last night saying "people were going a bit overboard with threats and racist comments" against Sir Peter in response to her post.

"I was just upset that someone whom I once looked up to had that mentality ... I don't wish any bad upon anyone and making more racist comments will make us no better.

"I don't like attention that's not me, but the video went viral and backlash happened. I will contact him myself and hopefully he'll understand why I was so upset."

The Herald sought a response to the comments Bridger posted this morning but Sir Peter's spokeswoman said he wouldn't be engaging in the debate any further.

She also rejected suggestions SIr Peter had tried to buy his way out of a blunder, with a meal, wine or money.

"She [Bridger] has made a number of claims that are untrue."

Several high-profile Kiwis have come to Sir Peter's defence this morning.


Comedian Mike King rejected suggestions the knight was a racist.

Sir Peter Letich is many things, humorous, caring, boisterous, outrageous but never ever can you call @sirmadbutcher a...

Posted by Mike King on Tuesday, 3 January 2017

"Sir Peter Leitch is many things, humorous, caring, boisterous, outrageous but never ever can you call @sirmadbutcher a racist #IGotYaBackBro."

He also urged people not to lash out at the young woman.

"Please don't turn this into a reason to attack or hate on the young lady, how she felt is how she felt. Her feelings are valid. I'm only commenting as someone who has known Butch for more than 20 years and knows what a caring loving man he is."

Rugby league and boxing star Monty Betham described Sir Peter as a "#Great man" in an Instagram post.

"He is not a racist - I've seen/experienced his sensitive side towards Island & Maori culture amongst others in the melting pot of ethnicity involved in rugby league on and off the field.


"In this situation Sir Peter once again was trying to do what he does - bring a smile to one's face, add some humor to one's day and most importantly try to interact with as many people as possible because he cares so much.

"Give the man some support and go into bat for him."

Former Warriors captain Ruben Wiki also showed his support for his long-time friend.

Wiki shared a photo of the pair, with the words: "Right behind Sir Mad Butcher.''

Wiki went on to say: "When I woke up this morning and saw what was said about our good friend ... I was pretty angry.

"I can tell you right now this man is not a racist. He has always put people first no matter what ethnicity you are.


"This seems like it was misinterpreted. Make sure your story is legit before you put it on social media because you can't take it back.''

Leitch is known for his charitable endeavours. He was knighted for services to business and philanthropy in the 2010 New Year Honours, almost two decades after receiving a Queen's Service Medal for community service in the 1991 Queen's birthday honours.