Sir Ray Avery did not anticipate the level of opposition he has faced over a planned charity concert at Auckland's Eden Park next year, saying he expected there would be only a handful of objectors.
The scientist and philanthropist has also attempted to address issues that a month-long Newsroom investigation raised about the baby incubators for which his Waitangi Day concert aimed to raise money.
A decision is expected to be made this week on whether the proposed "Million Babies" Waitangi Day LifePod Appeal concert can go ahead, after lawyers for trustees of the Eden Park Trust advised the consent process for the concert was likely to stretch beyond October and cost in excess of $750,000, not including legal costs.
Proceeds of the Live Aid-style concert would go towards the $4 million that was needed to make 2000 LifePods promoted to save babies around the world.
But the event has met some strong opposition — notably from local residents and former Prime Minister Helen Clark, who argued the charity concert would set a precedent for future shows.
"I didn't know the depth of feeling — I honestly believed hand on heart it was a good thing to do to save children's lives," Sir Ray told The AM Show.
He added that he'd assumed only about 20 people would be opposed to the event.
Three-quarters of submissions to the resource consent process supported the LifePod Appeal concert, as did 91 per cent of Aucklanders and 87 per cent of people living nearby.
Sir Ray has also been met with criticism over the LifePods themselves, following an article by the Newsroom website that scrutinised the product and claims surrounding it. Among a range of issues, the investigation highlighted the facts the LifePods did not yet have ISO certification as a medical device and production had not begun at scale.
It also raised questions over whether Avery should be leading the LifePods process, whether he'd been transparent enough, and whether any of the incubators would be actually produced soon after the concert.
Newsroom reported Avery acknowledging the one million target of babies to save was not exact, quoting him as saying: "When you're doing marketing you pick some figures out of the air."
Speaking to the Herald yesterday, Avery said this figure equated to the number of lives that could be saved by 2000 incubators over a 10-year period. He acknowledged the LifePod was not ISO certified — saying rather it was "certifiable"— but denied that any false claims had been made.
The LifePod's components had passed ISO testing, but now needed to be validated by an independent audit at the factory in Chennai, India, where it would be manufactured, he said.
"We can't sell it.
"It's got to be sold by them, and they will then manufacture it and distribute it," Avery said.
"We've got it to the point where we can now hand it over to the manufacturer, knowing with 100 per cent certainty that he can manufacture it and get the certification within a very short period of time."