National Indian list MP Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi says bridges with ethnic communities have been burnt by the release of secret audio recording between his leader Simon Bridges and former colleague Jami-Lee Ross.

Bakshi acknowledged hard work was now needed to repair the damage and heal the hurt.

"There will be some people who have been hurt, and definitely I will be talking to them, to address [their concerns] and explain," Bakshi said.

But Bakshi, who stood for the Manukau East electorate in the last election, said he still backed Bridges and believed his leader had been "set up" by Ross.


"It was a set up by him [Ross], he knew what he was doing," Bakshi said.

"That's why he was trying to put words into Simon's mouth and Simon did not endorse him in the context of the conversation."

The audio file of the telephone conversation between Bridges and Ross discussed potential candidates and a $100,000 donation to the National Party.

"Two Chinese would be nice but then, you know, would it be one Chinese and one Filipino? Or you know, what do we do?" Bridges was heard saying.

"Two Chinese would be more valuable than two Indians I have to say," Ross replied.

"Yeah, which is what we've got at the moment, right?" Bridges then said.

Bakshi said Bridges called him to clarify as soon as the secret audio files were released on social media by Ross.

"Simon's viewpoint is not at all what Jami-Lee makes it out to be," Bakshi said.


"He respects the Indian community and the Chinese community, and he knows their importance."

Bakshi said National's track record, including being the first party to have an Asian MP and an Asian cabinet minister, "speaks for itself".

"I think [Simon] was very genuine in that conversation," said Bakshi.

Bakshi said the fact that National had more than one Indian MP showed that it was not just "tokenism".

"Obviously the comments made by Jami-Lee are offensive and we're lucky he's no longer part of our team now," Bakshi said.

"Now I just have to keep working to ensure that the bridge that was built continues to remain there."

The Indian Association of New Zealand is demanding an apology for the comments and the Indian High Commissioner to NZ Sanjiv Kholi has expressed his shock via twitter.

Bakshi said he would be meeting those with concerns about the comments made by Bridges to explain the matter "one to one".