National MP Ian McKelvie defends teen candidate William Wood's 'impersonation' of Hitler

A National MP has responded to a teenage candidate's apparent impersonation of Adolf Hitler by saying "boys will be boys".

An image of William Wood, 18, who is National's candidate in Palmerston North, resurfaced on Tuesday showing the imitation, which he has since apologised for.

"The photo was taken when I was 14. It was an error on my part. I apologise for any offence that it may have caused," Wood told Newshub.

But National MP Ian McKelvie, who entered Parliament in 2011, said he didn't "make anything" of the photo.

"Boys will be boys. It's what happens in life, isn't it," McKelvie said on Tuesday.

When asked if this still applies even if a person is 14, he said he can't remember being that age.

"That's a long time ago."

It isn't the first time Wood has come under fire over a resurfaced image. He removed a photo from his personal Facebook page last year showing a friend pulling a hand gesture associated with white supremacists.

A spokesperson for Wood told Newshub at the time the teenager had started a public Facebook profile following his selection as National's Palmerston North candidate to "protect the privacy of family and close friends". 

The spokesperson also said the gesture Wood's friend made was "absolutely not" a white supremacist hand gesture.

Wood was selected as National's Palmerston North candidate in November 2019. The seat is currently held by Labour's Iain Lees-Galloway who will not contest it after it was revealed last week he had an affair with a former staffer.

If elected to Parliament at the September election, Wood - who had just graduated from Palmerston North Boys' High School when he was selected as a candidate - would become New Zealand's youngest MP ever.