17 Nov 2021

Groundswell drops dairy industry figure Ross Townshend after social media comments

9:32 am on 17 November 2021

Groundswell NZ has dropped its Hamilton organiser over comments he made on social media about Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta.

Tractors on Queen St Auckland in the farmers' protest

Groundswell helped organise nationwide protests for farmers earlier this year. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

The group organised nationwide protests for farmers earlier this year against government regulations, including the 'ute tax' and a seasonal worker shortage.

Earlier this month, Hamilton organiser Ross Townshend made a social media post in relation to Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta.

Yesterday, he was stood down from the board of Waikato dairy co-op Tatua, which described his post as "highly inappropriate".

Townshend was organising a Groundswell Hamilton protest this weekend.

Group spokesperson Laurie Paterson said when Townshend made the post, another Groundswell organiser called him and told him to take it down.

Paterson said Groundswell was not a racist organisation and did not support Townshend's views.

Townshend will no longer be organising the Hamilton protest.

Tatua chairman Stephen Allen yesterday said they would be contacting the minister's office to provide an explanation and personal apology.

The company's website says Townshend has a strong dairy operational background with New Zealand Dairy Group, New Zealand Dairy Foods and the wider Australasian dairy industry.