National | Dairy

Tātua dairy company director quits after criticising Minister Nanaia Mahuta's moko kauae

"Racist and misogynist" is how online users are describing Ross Townshend, a director of the Tatua dairy company, who has quit over his social media comments about Minister Nanaia Mahuta's moko kauae.

The online attack referenced her role as foreign affairs minister representing this country in Dubai and criticised her personal appearance.

However, her office told Te Ao Māori News it is not looking to make comment.

The incident had prompted a personal apology from the Tātua chairman, Steve Allen to the minister.

“I mean we're extremely upset ourselves - we're devastated, this completely blind-sided us.”

“She made it clear she didn't want to comment publicly on the matter at all.”

Townshend's controversial post to Facebook sparked criticism from the public, which led to his post being taken down.


He resigned his directorship of 12 years with the company once he discussed this incident with Allen this week.

Groundswell NZ, which is responsible for orchestrating a nationwide protest over new government regulations such as a tax on new combustion-engine vehicles (as part of the country's aim to lower emissions by 2030) has also dropped Townshend, who was the organiser of protests in Waikato.

Allen says the company doesn’t support racist and sexist behaviour and this incident has provided it with things to work on.

Local iwi Ngāti Haua is part of building the company's brand based in Tātuanui (Morrinville) as a leading international supplier of quality dairy products, Allen says.

“I think we actually need to work hard on the values that we certainly hold as a leadership team. We need to reinforce those with our people, we do have charters, codes of conduct, and that needs to be reinforced.”

“We carry a Māori name with pride and we are a multicultural company. We didn't think we had racism in our organisation but, obviously, we did have,” he says.