Sir Peter Leitch "made a racist and offensive comment, but he's not a racist", says Race Relations Commissioner Susan Devoy.
The businessman known as the 'Mad Butcher' has been under fire this week, after a woman posted a video to Facebook saying he'd racially abused her on Waiheke Island.
His spokesperson Michelle Boag poured gasoline on the fire on Wednesday night, telling a Maori TV reporter the complainant - Lara Wharepapa-Bridger - was "barely coffee-coloured".
Speaking to reporters in south Auckland on Thursday afternoon, Dame Susan defended Sir Peter.
"He made a mistake, and I'm sure he acknowledges that. He's a good person, and he's done a lot of great things. Don't let one thing cast a shadow over his entire life."
She wants him to meet and apologise to Ms Wharepapa-Bridger regardless.
"I've urged him to meet with the young woman and actually make it right, because he's that type of person, you know. We live in a country where truth and reconciliation's a part of who we are, and sometimes we muck up."
Ms Wharepapa-Bridger has also expressed a desire to meet with Sir Peter, but Ms Boag told Newshub on Thursday morning Sir Peter wasn't keen.
"She's been very public. Peter's made one comment to put the facts on the record and he's been, apart from that, very private, and I think he feels something like that will turn into a media circus.
"He's said everything he wanted to say to her."
The exchange which triggered the scandal happened earlier this week at Stonyridge Vineyard on Waiheke Island.