Waikato businessman Sir William Gallagher has apologised in an open letter for his comments on the Treaty of Waitangi which have been labelled offensive, racist and ill-informed.
Gallagher's speech to business people in the Waikato on Friday night that outlined his thoughts on "bloody reparations" to Maori and included that the Treaty was a rort, sparked an outcry from the community.
Many at the Christmas cocktail event hosted by the Waikato branch of the Institute of Directors walked out and earlier this week protesters dressed in white Ku Klux Klan robes stood outside the electric fencing company he runs in Hamilton.
He initially stood by his comments but today issued a letter through his company, the Gallagher Group.
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"I am a business person and not a historian," Gallagher said.
"Since then I have been doing further reading and acknowledge that I also need to seek more research and understanding on this topic from various viewpoints.
"I apologise for any offence taken and in particular for any inference that my views somehow represented an anti- Māori sentiment as this is not my intention."
He said Gallagher Group, begun by his father, had been built over almost 80 years internationally from 10 to more than 1100 people of "diverse-thinking, opinions, and ethnic backgrounds".
"And we foster a culture of valuing and respecting all people without judgment or prejudice."
He added that company's commitment to a better New Zealand for Māori and non-Māori had resulted in the Gallagher Group making personal commitments of several million dollars every year into community initiatives.
Gallagher said these included support to low decile schools, educational scholarships, community assets, and as sponsors of the Chiefs.