Correction and apology:

An earlier version of this story and headline stated Sir Bob Jones had described the "homeless" as a disgrace to society. Jones has written to the Herald to state he was referring to beggars, not the homeless. The Herald regrets the error and apologises to Jones.

Businessman Sir Bob Jones wants begging made illegal, saying beggars are mostly fat and a disgrace to society.

The shocking comments come after a west Auckland beggar claimed he made $150 a day and a "begging syndicate" aggressively targeted shoppers.


Sir Bob Jones, property investor and former politician, said it was unbelievable that begging was allowed in New Zealand today.

"They're a bloody disgrace, they're an eyesore, it's a disgrace in a modern society that fat people - that fat Maoris as they mostly are - are lying on our streets of our city begging," he told Chris Lynch  on NewstalkZB.

He said begging should be made illegal.

"I was in the city yesterday, in Wellington, and one bugger was standing there, he had a message, this Maori bloke, 'I'm not on welfare' - and this apparently was an achievement - 'so give me money."

"It baffles me when people say, 'Oh leave them alone'.  They should be ashamed of people begging on the streets... I'm ashamed of these people. They're a disgrace to the human race."

"If they want to degrade themselves, let them do it in private. We shouldn't be subject to that."

He said New Zealand has a welfare system and there's a shortage in the country's workforce so there's no need for people to beg.

"We're having to import labour for manual work 'cause that's all these people could do, they're obviously not lawyers and things, and doctors."


In particular, he's upset with characters like the now-deceased Ben Hana, also known as Wellington's 'Blanket Man'. He said when Hana died he seemed to be treated as being some sort of nobleman, which he wasn't.

"One silly bugger wrote to the paper... saying 'He was an example to us all'. He didn't say why. This is the attitude toward beggars, that there is something noble about them. There's not."

He said in Europe gypsys were "a damn nuisance".

"They use little girls, and I'm a sucker for a little girl coming up to me with pleading eyes. I know I shouldn't and I give them money... they use them as tools. They women often sit outside cathedrals and I'm often aggressive toward them, which is the proper way to deal with it."

Upset NewstalkZB listeners were quick to respond to Jones' comments via text.

Lynch said one read "the racism in that call is unbelievable, racism knows no colour".


While another said "good on Bob".

Others have written to the Herald to both support and lambast him.

Tyler Kenton Dunkel, who ran a Wellington night shelter for two years, said the comments were "absolutely wrong".

"Yes NZ has a welfare system, however it is drastically failing those who are experiencing homelessness.

"Private NGOs have been bridging the gap for many years but as the housing crisis has driven up rent prices and homelessness has increased, the limited funds of these organisations have been strained to breaking.

"NZ is a wealthy nation that should view basic housing as a human right not a privledge."


Barrister Lady Heeni Phillips-Williams said: "One has to feel sorry for Sir Bob Jones's given his latest attack on [beggars] being fat and Maori.

"It appears Sir Bob is not getting enough attention and these blatantly, outrageous comments have been made to draw much needed attention to himself."

Shane Stent said: "Bob is one of the few Kiwis with the courage to say what we all think. Why glorify and focus on a person who is a begging, it is a disgrace.

"Focus on a person who works hard and contributes to society. Who starts with little but with hard work and perseverance succeeds.

"I guess the latter is boring and the forma tugs at the socialist heart strings."

Former Auckland mayoral candidate David Hay criticised Sir Bob's previous attempts to have begging banned in Auckland.


"The proponents of a ban are simply ignorant about the actual situation.

"The promoters of this ban apparently have no understanding of, or empathy for, the plight of urban street-dwellers."

Henderson-Lincoln Business Association Gary Holmes said he'd heard of individuals taking home more than a hundred dollars a day in west Auckland.

Bob Jones controversy

Jan 2017:

Jones tells NewstalkZB that beggars are usually 'fat Maoris'.

Sep, 2016: Jones said in a National Business Review column: "Try finding a pretty girl over 20 or a young bloke in a suit in say Wanganui or Timaru and you will look in vain."


May 2015: He was kicked off a flight after refusing to say "yes" when asked if he could open the exit in an emergency.

April 2015: Jones said in a Herald column: "I'm aware there are no pretty girls in the provinces, for as fast as they come off the production line, they sensibly up sticks for the big smoke."

Oct 2013: He wrote in the Herald that two German tourists who claimed they were indecently assualted were "very silly". And told TV presenter Catriona MacLennan - who asked why women shouldn't be able to walk safely through an unlit park at night? - to "Grow up, girl".

Oct 2013: Jones wrote a column for the Herald, saying women drivers were responsible for causing "massive pile-ups" at Lower Hutt roundabouts.
He added: "Right now a bunch of young Saudi women are agitating to be allowed to drive. It's a tough one. For by Allah they've got that prohibition on women driving right and should probably kick for touch and maintain the status quo for fear their women will drive like ours."