Sir Bob Jones withdraws defamation case against filmmaker Renae Maihi

4:17 pm on 14 February 2020

Sir Bob Jones has withdrawn his defamation case against Renae Maihi, who set up a petition after he wrote an article which suggested Māori should be grateful to Pākehā for existing.

Sir Bob Jones outside the High Court at Wellington on Monday 10 February on the first day of a defamation case.

Photo: RNZ / Charlotte Cook

The Lower Hutt property investor had been suing Maihi for defaming him by calling him a racist, and saying he is an author of hate speech. Sir Robert's lawyer Fletcher Pilditch today said the case had been discontinued.

Maihi spoke at the High Court in 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".

In the article, Jones called for Waitangi Day to be renamed "Māori Gratitude Day".

"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."

Sir Robert said in a statement, "I filed these proceedings because I was deeply offended by Ms Maihi's allegations.

"I am not a racist."

He said he has decided to end proceedings because "the parties may never align on what is acceptable humour, however, no malice was intended by either".

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

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

Maihi said Sir Robert's decision to abandon his defamation case against her has put an end to her stress.

She said she has agreed to close the petition she wrote calling for his knighthood to be revoked, which was signed by 90,000 people.

Maihi said it had been a stressful period of her life, but she hoped the conversation about racism in New Zealand would continue.

Sir Robert admitted the previous day he had not read in full the petition, which called for his knighthood to be revoked.

"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."

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