The New Zealand Jewish Council has leapt to the defence of National Party candidate William Wood after a photo of him appearing to imitate Adolf Hitler when he was younger resurfaced online.
Wood, 18, who is National's candidate in Palmerston North, apologised on Tuesday after an image surfaced online showing him impersonating the dictator.
"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."
But NZ Jewish Council spokesperson Juliet Moses told Magic Talk that while statements similar to Wood's depend on the context, a 14-year-old shouldn't be judged by their actions.
"I think most people would realise that at 14 you're still pretty immature. You've got a lot of growing up to do and we need to allow people to grow up and mature, and not hold them to whatever they did as a 14-year-old."
When asked if the Jewish community took offence to Wood's photo, she said "not at all".
"We don't think it's right to condemn somebody for their actions as a 14-year-old."
Moses said the term 'Nazi' is used in common parlance, but again it's about the context.
"Sometimes 'you're a grammar Nazi' is used to tell someone they've pointed out an apostrophe in the wrong place. So we have to be a bit sensible about this I think."
She "totally agrees" that 'callout culture' can lean towards ideas of fascism and intolerance epitomised by Nazism.
"The way a celebrity or someone who's got a bit of fame or a position of prominence gets a trawl through their social media from 10 years ago to try and find something they might have said that maybe someone might've taken offence to - it can tend towards authoritarianism or fascism.
"William Wood needs to be allowed to make mistakes in his past, like everyone else, and learn from them."
National Party leader Judith Collins told The AM Show on Wednesday the photo of Wood was "hardly a story", but it was good to apologise for these types of issues.
"For goodness sake, 14. Come on. It is just ridiculous. He has apologised, he has done everything he should, but 14, come on," she said.
"I think it is good to apologise on issues like this, but it was a pretty silly thing and 14-year-old guys, I mean, I have met him a couple of times and he is very, very mature. He has learnt a lot. I can tell you, 14, come on. That is hardly a story."
Collins didn't force Wood to apologise, she said.
"I didn't tell him to apologise. He chose to apologise. I thought that showed a lot of maturity."