28 Mar 2023

National Party leader Christopher Luxon demands Marama Davidson apologise to cis white men

1:38 pm on 28 March 2023
Christopher Luxon

Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

National is demanding Marama Davidson apologise to cis white men over her comments from Saturday. Prime Minister Chris Hipkins says he considers the matter closed.

Davidson clarified her comments on Monday after criticism over her comments about cis white men committing violence, saying she should have been clearer but had just been hit by a motorcycle and was being followed down the street by far-right network Counterspin Media.

She had initially said as prevention of sexual and family violence minister, she knew it was white cis men who caused violence. Her clarification said violence happened in every community and was unacceptable in any, but women were overwhelmingly more likely to be victims of family and sexual violence.

Hipkins had said he accepted her clarification, and today passed on that she clearly regretted the language she used and the singling out of race or ethnicity.

"I've had a conversation with her this morning," he said. "It's a horrific experience to have gone through being hit by a motorcycle in what was already probably quite an emotionally charged situation. I think she's holding up okay - I think the physical pain as a result of the bruising has started which she indicated she didn't feel initially because I guess when the adrenaline's pumping you don't necessarily feel that.

"She's indicated those aren't the words that she would normally use and she regrets having used them."

He said she had not offered her resignation - which the ACT and NZ First parties had demanded - and he would not ask for it.

Chris Hipkins

Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

"People make mistakes, I'm not going to ask for a resignation every time someone makes a mistake or says something that turns out to be incorrect or that you know was made in the heat of the moment," Hipkins said.

"I think Marama's owned the fact that this was a mistake and I think that's appropriate."

He said he considered that the end of the matter.

Not so for National's leader Christopher Luxon, however.

"I think the bottom line is her comments were incredibly harmful generalisation of an entire group of people, they were wrong, they were offensive. What I haven't heard from her or Chris Hipkins yesterday was an apology," he said.

"What I think we need to hear now from Marama Davidson is an apology."

"She should do it publicly and she should do it to the people that she hurt."

He was asked if he saw any irony in calling for Davidson, a Māori woman, to apologise to white men over comments about violence.

"Why is that a funny statement? ... I just think it's a group she caused offence to, she made a sweeping generalisation, the comments were wrong, they were offensive, she gave a justification as to why she made them but she didn't actually apologise.

"She should just simply apologise and move on."

Speaking in person to media on Tuesday afternoon - for the first time since the weekend - Davidson did not apologise but said it had been important to her to make the initial clarification.

"I acknowledge that I should have been clearer in my words, I normally take incredible care. I understand the importance of my language in my work.

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson speaking at today's counter-protest against anti-transgender activist Posie Parker at Albert Park in Auckland.

Marama Davidson at the rally for trans rights in protest against the rhetoric of Posie Parker on Saturday. Photo: Instagram / Missgeenax

"I have clarified what I intended to say and particularly affirm and acknowledge victims and survivors who may not have seen themselves in my comments."

She said she was healing well.

"There's a lot of work to do and I'm in a good enough condition to keep going."

Luxon said National supported trans rights.

"We do, we support free speech as well and we support the right to protest," he said.

"Our party has a broad church made up of people with a very diverse set of views, it's important that's the case, represents the views that are within New Zealand - but we do believe in a New Zealand that's incredibly diverse and inclusive."

He did not think it would be an election issue, however.

"I don't think it will be, there are much more important things facing New Zealanders at the moment and the real issue they're facing is a cost of living crisis, and it's going to be all about the economy."

Police 'failed' in Parker protest - Mitchell

National's police spokesperson Mark Mitchell said officers had failed to protect anti-trans activist Posie Parker, also known as Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull whose rhetoric Davidson had been protesting against on Saturday.

Parker did not end up speaking at her Auckland or Wellington events over the weekend, after hundreds of trans rights protesters showed up. She was shoved and had tomato soup thrown at her - which Mitchell said was assault.

"The assault on the female, the lady that held the event ... that is an assault, make no mistake. Can you imagine if any of us walked up to someone else and starting pouring fluid - by the way she would have had no idea what it was - that is traumatic."

He said he would expect police to carry out a serious review.

"The police are the only agency that have got the powers and the ability to investigate and take action, and my expectation is that they exercise those rights and those powers and that they do something because if we start to go down a road in this country where we accept that and we say that's the norm, then we're going to start to dampen and we're going to start to kill off our freedom of speech."

He said police would make their own decisions about whether to prosecute, but he would expect them to take action.

"It is the police's decision. My expectation is the police have got a lot of evidence there and they should be looking seriously at what their options are."

Hipkins said he did not want to get into questioning police operational decisions.

"My expectation is the police's job is to keep the community safe, and that includes people who we might disagree with - having said that I don't want to comment on any specific instances because those are ultimately operational decisions."

Do not engage - Hipkins

He said his advice for MPs dealing with situations where they might be followed and questioned by the likes of Counterspin media was to not engage with them.

"These are people that are deliberately trying to entrap ministers [and] public figures into saying or doing things that ultimately will lead to no good in the end," he said.

"I guess hard and fast rules in these sorts of circumstances don't work. You do have to I guess respond to the situation that's in front of you but generally speaking engagement isn't going to lead to a positive outcome."

Davidson said the whole of Saturday morning had been "charged".

"There was beauty and love and solidarity for trans people who are far too often discriminated, oppressed and marginalised and there were some horrific and longstanding horrific [claims of] trans people being a threat to women and that is simply not true. So when the far right media came to me I was still in that charged environment as well which is why I should have taken far more care with the words that I used."

She said she had not initially recognised Counterspin, but "it became obvious when they started asking quite inflammatory questions which charged the situation even more. Regardless I normally take much more care of my language and that's what I have clarified".

  • Marama Davidson clarifies violence comments from Posie Parker protest after calls to resign
  • Group backing Posie Parker making complaint over 'lack of intervention' by police
  • Risk of political violence this election high – Shaw
  • Marama Davidson hit by motorcyclist after Posie Parker protest
  • High Court rules decision to allow British anti-transgender activist Posie Parker into country was lawful