Mayoral candidate Dr Reynold Macpherson has apologised for posting false and defamatory statements about two Rotorua Lakes Council staff and says he has learnt from his mistake.
Following the apology, Dr Macpherson and the council say they will put the matter behind them and move forward.
Dr Macpherson emailed an apology to the council lawyers and staff concerned on Saturday, following a statement he posted on his Facebook page and that of the group he belongs to - the Rotorua District Residents and Ratepayers.
The July 27 post alleged "cronyism", saying two council staff, which he named in the post, were part of Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick's 2013 election campaign team and were subsequently offered jobs by the mayor despite not going through the proper recruitment processes.
In the following days, the council's chief executive, Geoff Williams, requested Dr Macpherson immediately remove the statements from both Facebook posts, offer an appropriate apology and "desist from making any further false and defamatory statements about council staff".
The council's lawyers Tompkins Wake gave Dr Macpherson until midday last Friday to make a full apology and retract his statements.
As well as the emailed apology, a post was made on the RDRR Facebook page on Sunday night, titled 'Perceptions of cronyism and conflicts of interest, and Rotorua's coming referendum on co-governance'. Signed by Dr Macpherson, it included the following:
"I do apologise for naming names in a previous posting. No personal hurt was intended in an attempt to question substantive issues of concern.
"My sincere apologies. I also retract the statement that they were appointed without appropriate criteria and process at the behest of the mayor.
"I now know that my original posting was false and defamatory of them. Again, my apologies."
In a statement sent to the Rotorua Daily Post today, Mr Williams said the council wanted to put the issue behind it.
He said the staff concerned were not on the mayor's campaign team and had secured their positions at the council through "separate publicly contestable recruitment processes managed by an external recruitment firm".
"Rotorua Lakes Council, as a good employer, raised this matter with Mr Macpherson, concerned for the welfare and reputation of its employees," he said.
"Rotorua Lakes Council is pleased that Mr Macpherson has retracted his statement as it allows the parties involved to put this issue behind them."
In a written statement to the Rotorua Daily Post today, Dr Macpherson said he was glad his apology had been accepted and the issue was now behind them.
"It was appropriate for me to acknowledge my errors, to apologise for the defamation and to learn from my mistake. I am similarly concerned with the welfare and reputation of the [council's] employees, especially so, as public servants, they retain the trust and respect of the citizenry.
He said his comments about the employment of the two staff were "made in good faith" based on information he believed at the time to be accurate.
"However, based on the information provided to me since by [Mr Williams] I decided to accept his word with respect to their appointments. I was also keen to avoid the typically horrendous expenses of defamation litigation being met by ratepayers or myself."