15 May 2021

Eagle Brewing owner apologises over 'unacceptable' comments

7:06 pm on 15 May 2021

The owner of a beer company has apologised for posting racist comments online and plans to educate himself to "unlearn racial bias", following mounting calls to boycott the beer.

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Craft beer bars are pulling the plug on supplies from David Gaughan's brewery after his Facebook comments on Māori. (file pic) Photo: Enterprise North Canterbury

Disgusted craft beer bars retailers had said they would no longer stock the Canterbury brewery Eagle Brewing's range, after its owner posted an anti-Māori rant on social media.

The comments, which have now been deleted, were posted on a Facebook comment section of a story from a news website about a firearms incident near a Napier primary school.

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Photo: Facebook screenshot

"Ok let's speak the truth. Maori are the scruge[scourge] of New Zealand. The quicker we put them in prison the better. I'm talking about the majority of the male population. The ones who beat their missis. Who don't give a f..k about society. Yeah you who will Rebel against these words. But truth be told you are NZ biggest problem right now."

Eagle Brewing owner David Gaughan's comments have been strongly condemned by those in the craft beer industry as racist and deplorable.

Gaughan has since apologised and said he was considering resigning from the Kaiapoi-based brewery and wanted to unlearn racial bias and better understand Māori culture.

Operations manager at Auckland's Lumsden Freehouse, Lucy Campbell, said Gaughan's comments were "horrific" and the bar won't be pouring Eagle Brewing's beers again.

"We don't pour beer from racists or bigots and that's the end of the story really."

Matt White owns Beer Jerk, which runs an online craft beer shop and a small bar in Auckland's Eden Terrace.

"All of us people in the beer industry know each other. It's a really small community. So, some screengrabs of David's comments were shared in some private WhatsApp groups yesterday evening."

He said they won't be placing any more orders with Eagle Brewing on the back of the comments.

"We were just completely flabbergasted. And it's actually it's an almost visceral, physical feeling of just how sickened we are that somebody can have these feelings and these opinions and especially in craft beer. So the area that we work in is so accepting and inclusive."

These reactions mirror the feelings of hundreds of people taking to social media today and calling out the remarks.

Brewer says he was 'lashing out'

Gaughan said he deserved the backlash and agreed what he said was "unacceptable."

"I'm extremely, extremely sorry to the public of New Zealand. You know, the comments as they came across were absolutely unacceptable, totally inappropriate, and they're not comments that I would normally put out there.

"...I was just lashing out I guess. The comments were just totally uncalled for, you know, [and] didn't really put my points across or the arguments across that I was trying to make [which] is that I just feel so strongly about family violence."

People are calling for his resignation, something he said he was prepared to do but with staff in mind, he wants to make sure the business doesn't fall over because of him.

"I haven't resigned as yet. And the reason for that is because I can't do so without knowing the implications on the financial side of the business.

"You know the important thing for me is the people around me. They come first, my family come first and the people working for me come first. I am very, very sorry about the comments, you know, from my heart.

"And if resignation is what it takes, then you know, that will come. But I have to look into that first to make sure that the financial structure of business stays intact and that that is the right thing to do."

At his restaurant Port and Eagle Brew Pub in Kaiapoi today there were just two staff on and only three groups of customers inside.

Gaughan said he fully accepts being called out as a racist.

"The wording came across as racist and I'm not denying that; it was absolutely atrocious the way it was written.

"So I think it's absolutely brilliant that people have called it out. And, you know, perhaps I deserve to hurt a wee bit. Perhaps I deserve to hurt a lot..."

He said the response has made him question himself and resolve to be a better person.

He said his apology will be followed up with action and he needs to immerse himself in other cultures, including Māori.

"I've already started asking questions from some of my Māori friends who have come to me and said: 'Hey, Dave, this is not you. This is not what you are, what's going on?'"

The founders of an anti-violence movement aiming to break cycles of domestic violence, Matt and Sarah Brown from She Is Not Your Rehab said they wanted to meet Gaughan face to face.

They want to help him gain understanding and compassion for the group of people he has offended and which they work alongside.