A complaint has been lodged against a Queenstown lawyer who said he wanted a "hareem" in his firm's office on Facebook.

Todd & Walker Law principal Graeme Todd posted what has been claimed to be an offensive comment on the firm's Facebook page.

The firm posted a photo at a staff lunch and a woman commented, "I notice a large gender imbalance Graeme, not that I blame you. Maybe Russell McVeagh offices could take a leaf."

Todd replied to the comment stating they have a fantastic team "and you know I have always fancied having my own hareem".


Law researcher and #MeToo blogger, Zoë Lawton filed the complaint on behalf of several women who found a Facebook comment from Todd to be "sexist and derogatory".

She sent the complaint as an open letter to the Law Society and said the term is often used to mock and demean female staff in the law profession.

When contacted by the Herald, Todd said he would like to be able to speak about the post, but he could not.

"I apologise, but it's not proper that I speak about it publicly when it's the subject of a complaint," he said.

The complaint would not meet the threshold to start an investigation by a New Zealand Law Society Standards committee or to have Todd suspended or struck off.

Instead, Lawton filed the complaint to get the Law Society to adopt a procedure for handling complaints of this kind in the future.

"It is without doubt that these remarks perpetuate the culture of sexual harassment that exists in not all, but many parts of the legal profession," she said.

"I therefore invite the Law Society to consider what procedure to adopt, if any, to handle complaints of this nature and if so, what repercussions should follow."


The term hareem is spelt with a single "e" in the Oxford Dictionary and is defined as:

Harem NOUN

• (in former times) the separate part of a Muslim household reserved for wives,
concubines, and female servants.
"we were invited into the harem in the rear of the house"
• The women occupying a harem; the wives (or concubines) of a polygamous
"the Maharaja of Delhi had a very fine harem of 18 young and nubile wives"
• A group of female animals sharing a single mate.
"the dominant bulls gather a harem of anything from two to 10 cows"
• Derogatory A group of women perceived as centring around a particular man.
"rich men with their extensive harems of buxom blondes"