A petition of more than 68,000 signatures has been delivered to Parliament, calling on MPs to strip Sir Bob Jones of his knighthood over his controversial column about a Maori "Gratitude Day".

The petition, started by film-maker Renae Maihi, was presented to Labour MP Kiritapu Allan with the support of Waikato University Professor Pou Temara, an expert in te reo and tikanga.

The petition was prompted by a column Jones wrote in the National Business Review last month, calling for a Māori Gratitude Day instead of Waitangi Day.​

"I have in mind a public holiday where Maoris bring us breakfast in bed or weed our gardens, wash & polish our cars & so on, out of gratitude for existing," Jones wrote.


The column was later deleted from NBR's website, and Jones has since stopped writing his column.

Maihi said she hoped Parliament would remove his knighthood.

"There's quite a sizeable voice that supports the removal of this knighthood for what he said about a whole nation of people. That includes our children, that includes our ancestors, that includes our descendents.

"It's very important that Aotearoa New Zealand takes these words seriously, takes the impact of racism seriously, because it does impact people in their daily lives.

"For these words to not be taken seriously, to be swept under the carpet, would be deeply irresponsible. We've had enough."

Temara said he shouldn't have to excuse the column under the banner of free speech.

"I should forgive that? And I'm the person that's been hurt by that? I should forgive that? Are you serious?

"The best outcome is for Parliament to consider and enact the tenants and demands of the petition."


The petition states: "In signing this petition we urge you, our Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Jacinda Ardern to take his Knighthood away from him. It is in your power. Set a precedent for the country & a message that this will not be tolerated & hate speech of this type is not welcome here."

Jones has declined to comment on the petition.

Labour MP Kiri Allan accepted the petition, saying it will be sent to select committee and due consideration will be given.

She said realistically the bar for removing a knighthood is high, and it needs to be for something that is related to the issue for which the knighthood was received.

Jones' knighthood is for services to the business community.

Regardless of the outcome, the petition served an important purpose, Allan said.

"There's no doubt that the comments have caused a lot of pain and heartache. In this day and age, racism is not okay, overt, satirical or otherwise.

"When you can garner the support of [close to] 70,000, it's highlighting there has been a culture shift in New Zealand, and as a populace we don't condone that kind of behaviour.

"Maori are sick of being the butts of jokes ... It causes pain."

But she said New Zealand also cherished the right to free speech.

Maihi also presented an education policy to Allan, suggesting all New Zealand children should be taught about "local hapū and iwi history, the context and content of Te Tiriti o Waitangi [the Treaty of Waitangi], colonisation and its impacts".​