Ron Mark denies comment as racist

  • 05/11/2015
NZ First MP Ron Mark (File)
NZ First MP Ron Mark (File)

NZ First MP Ron Mark is denying it was racist to tell Melissa Lee to go back to Korea if she didn't like New Zealand shops closing early.

Mr Mark has been under fire for the comment, made during yesterday's debate in the house about Easter trading laws, in which he said: "If you don't like New Zealand, go back to Korea."

Ms Lee had been referring to her surprise - 30 years ago - when she came to New Zealand and discovered shops closed at 5pm.

Maori Party MP Marama Fox immediately labelled it "a borderline racial diatribe" and National and Labour MPs also condemned the remark.

But Mr Mark denied it was racist when pressed by reporters today.

"I object to being told that we need to grow up ... some people who come here think we are little bit antiquated, a little bit silly, and maybe they do think we need to grow up. They have got two choices, they can move on.

"As the speaker said, it was robust debate. Handle it."

ACT leader David Seymour says Mr Mark should apologise and withdraw the remark.

"Normally we give Ron Mark a bit of a leash because he's not the brightest bulb on the tree, but this sort of racism is not acceptable.

"What he said was absolutely disgraceful, a disgrace to parliament and I think embarrassing for New Zealanders and especially his party."