Tauranga car salesmen stood down over racist voicemail to Māori customer

Tauranga's Farmer Auto Village.
The woman received the racist messaged after she had test driven a car from Tauranga's Farmer Auto Village. Photo credit: Google Maps

Two car salesmen have been stood down over a racist voicemail left to a prospective customer.

Rotorua nurse Narrelle Newdick told TVNZ she discovered the racist message on her phone after she had visited the Farmer Auto Village, where she found a car she was keen to purchase.

But after taking the car for a test drive, Ms Newdick says she discovered a voice message left on her phone which appears to be a conversation between two of the car salesmen who didn't realise they were being recorded.

"You little Māori... it keeps going to voicemail," one can be heard saying.

"Tell her don't be a f*****g clever Māori," another says. 

Employment lawyer Warwick Reid told NZME the Farmer Auto Village would be well within its rights to fire the staff involved if he found it had brought the company into disrepute.

"That could argue there has been misconduct or serious misconduct, and it is open to an employer to take disciplinary action," he said.

Farmer Auto Village group managing director Mike Farmer told NZME he was devastated by the comments and would be ensuring they would never happen again.

"We've built this business over 27 years and we've done a lot for the community in Tauranga," he said.

"To have this occur in the company is devastating. We will be making some very firm action to make sure this never, ever happens again."

Mr Farmer called Ms Newdick directly to apologise for the incident and she told NZME she believed the apology was genuine.

She also received a phone call and apology from one of the salesmen she had dealt with, but she believes it was not genuine and he was made to do it.