A car dealership has apologised to a Rotorua woman after a staff member left a racist voice message on her phone.

Nurse Narelle Newdick visited the Farmer Auto Village in Tauranga with the hopes of buying a new car, TVNZ1's Marae programme reported.

She planned to buy one of the dealer's cars until she discovered the message a staff member had accidentally left on her phone.

"Your little Māori girl…it keeps going to voice mail," two dealers can be heard saying to each other in the message.


"Tell her don't be a f***** clever Māori.

"Your little Māori girl… Go back to Maketu and dig pipis out of the sand"

Farmer Auto Village group managing director Mike Farmer told the Rotorua Daily Post he was "devastated" to hear about the incident.

"We as a team are just absolutely devastated by the ignorance of two of our staff members out of 120," Farmer said.

"It's not reflective of the remaining 120 in the company. We're all emotional about this as well as deeply concerned about Narelle and her family.

"This is not reflective of our staff or culture."

Farmer said the company would be taking "firm action to make sure cultural awareness is brought back to the forefront".

He suggested cultural awareness classes to refresh the team.


Farmer told the Daily Post a disciplinary process was under way with the staff members concerned and he had personally apologised to Newdick.

"As has one of the employees responsible. We've requested they meet Narelle when she is ready and I've left that with her."

Newdick could not be contacted late Monday but earlier told Marae she was upset and angry about the conversation which had left her in disbelief.

"When I received the message I couldn't believe what I was hearing," she told Marae.

Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy told the Rotorua Daily Post casual racism was part of every day life for many New Zealanders and complaints to the Human Rights Commission suggested it wasn't getting better.

Devoy commended Narelle for taking action and calling out racism.


"We need to talk about it as a first step in addressing it," Devoy said.

"Conversations about the everyday things that happen in our community can bring a new awareness to those of us who have never experienced racial discrimination.

"It's good to see that the company involved is taking action."

Devoy said if awareness of racism led to action, that could only benefit New Zealand.