Auckland mayoral candidate Wayne Brown has described a prominent journalist as "a prick" and said if elected he would stick pictures of him in urinals so people could "pee" on him.
The comment was caught in what Brown thought was an off-camera moment with a Newshub crew earlier in the week, but it was replayed in the television channel's live mayoral debate on Saturday.
It was about the only line in the broadcast that had not been previously well-traversed by Brown, and his rival Efeso Collins, and came in their final campaign encounter before the 8 October election day.
The pair are locked in the closest contest yet to become mayor of Auckland.
The pre-recorded clip, showed the camera move away from Brown, as he responded to a question about his age (76) being commented on.
"That prick Simon Wilson dug it out," Brown joked. "Now, he's been at me for all year long and the first thing I'm going to do when I get to be mayor, I'm going to glue little pictures of him on the urinals, so we can pee on him."
Back on the live debate, Brown seemed surprised but unrepentant: "I didn't know that was being done."
"Nevertheless he (Wilson) had launched into it from day one, when he said I was an angry old white man, which is a pretty good description of him actually," Brown told the debate.
He said if anyone had concerns about his age, they were welcome to join him surfing on Sunday.
Wilson, a senior writer for NZME, was on the post-debate political panel, and pointed out that the job of media was to ask questions, and that he hadn't had a lot of answers about Brown's two terms as mayor of the Far North District Council.
Brown held a 6 percent margin over Collins in the latest public poll, but with a high number undecided, and Wilson told the other panellists the contest was "too close to call".
Collins, who stood alongside Brown during the debate did not speak out on the topic, but in a statement later said: "These are not comments fitting of an Auckland Mayor - these are undignified comments - and as Mayor you have to be a team player, a collaborator, and be able to handle criticism."
The rest of the debate saw the pair deliver their standard campaign lines, although Brown sharpened his criticism of the make-up of the council agencies' boards of directors.
Brown said he will replace all the directors of the major council-controlled agencies, which include Auckland Transport, Eke Panuku, and Auckland Unlimited, saying diversity seems to be the current key criteria for appointments, not capability in relevant areas of expertise.
"If they all (end up) looking like middle-aged white males, that's fine with me," he said.
Collins said Brown's call for specific competency was relevant for management roles, but that governance was different, and that the city needed diversity "everywhere".
The Newshub Nation debate was the pair's last encounter, and they and 20 other mayoral hopefuls return to their own campaigning during the final week.
* This story originally appeared on Stuff.