Sir Robert Jones has dropped his defamation case mid-trial against Renae Maihi, who set up a petition after he wrote an article which suggested Māori should be grateful to Pākehā for existing.

In a statement provided to the Herald, Jones said he had today "discontinued my proceedings against Maihi", and also understood she intended to take down her petition.

"I filed these proceedings because I was deeply offended by Maihi's allegations.

"I am not a racist," he said.


"I now accept, however, Maihi's offence taking was a sincerely held opinion.

"The parties may never align on what is acceptable humour, however, no malice was intended by either, thus it is sensible to put an end to proceedings."

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In a statement Maihi said she "welcomed" Jones' decision to drop the defamation proceedings, saying it brought an end to a stressful period but she hoped the conversation about racism would continue.

"This has always been about highlighting the harm and impact that racist language has, both now and historically.

"It is important for us all to remember that language and articles of this nature, whether intentional or not, can and do cause hurt.

"It is important too that those on the receiving end of racism have an opportunity to express their feelings.

"This brings an end to a stressful period of my life but that said, I hope the conversation about racism in this country will continue, in the most dignified manner possible.


"I have always believed and continue to believe in what was written in the petition. Given the outcome today, I intend to close the petition."

While she and many others disagreed with Jones' views, Maihi urged people to disagree "without being rude about him as a person".

"I ask people to keep this in mind when posting on social media."

She thanked the 90,000 people who signed the petition in question, her supporters and legal team.

Maihi spoke in the High Court at Wellington yesterday about how denigrated she felt by his column - which was removed from the NBR website days after it was published due to "inappropriate content".

"It identified my entire race and suggested they should become servants for a day for Pākehā," she said.

"Regardless of whether the suggestion was made seriously, I found the imagery of servitude and slavery that the column evoked, to be offensive and racist."

Her lawyer Davey Salmon was using the defences of truth, honest opinion and qualified privilege to defend the case.

Cross-examination of Maihi had been expected to continue today, to be followed by lawyer and Treaty of Waitangi expert Dr Moana Jackson to discuss racism and hate-speech later in the trial.

Jones had admitted the previous day he had not fully read the petition, which called for his knighthood to be revoked and was signed by more than 80,000 people.

"I've never read her petition, I admit that, all I know is that I was aware she was running a petition on the knighthood proposition, which is insulting."

The case was being heard by a judge alone and Jones was not seeking a monetary payout for the alleged defamation but to have his legal costs reimbursed.

Jones had given evidence to the trial saying he never expected his comments around te reo being a dying language to be "provocative".

Jones wrote in the column that there were no full-blooded Māori left, and if it were not for British immigration, Māori would not be alive today.

He suggested Māori should bring Pākehā breakfast in bed, weed their gardens and wash and polish their cars out of gratitude for existing.

Jones' lawyer Fletcher Pilditch told the court earlier this week that the millionaire tycoon was a "prolific author" who had been writing for more than 50 years, often with a "humorous" tone.

His Māori gratitude comments came under a column headline that said "media gaffes part 2 and flights of fancy", which Pilditch said was a "clear indicator" of the humour Jones was employing in his "tongue in cheek" writing.

He also pointed to the subheading in the column, "time for a troll" as another indicator of this.

- Additional reporting: RNZ