National's shadow Treasurer claims he didn't mock Nanaia Mahuta's name at a recent conference, but instead genuinely mispronounced it.
NZ Herald columnist Simon Wilson on Tuesday morning claimed Andrew Bayly made a hash of the Local Government minister's name at a recent party conference.
"'Nanna, manna, nan, um, nanny, manny, man, oh dear, whatever,' said the party's shadow treasurer, grinning sheepishly. 'There's no media here, is there?'," Wilson wrote.
He wrote it happened at the same conference National leader Judith Collins called for a serious conversation about the He Puapua report.
But Bayly has taken issue with that description, saying in a statement to Newshub that he was appalled at the suggestion he mocked Mahuta's name.
"The truth of the matter is that I stumbled over her name and then made a joke about media being present as it would be embarrassing for them to capture my mispronunciation," Bayly said.
The MP said he doesn't stoop to personal attacks and is offended by the incident's characterisation.
"I have reached out to Minister Mahuta's office and hope to speak to her soon to explain the situation to her as I would hate for her to think I had behaved in such a way towards her."
Collins has come to Bayly's support on Twitter, writing: "Andrew would not have done anything to cause offence. The last thing he would do."
But Wilson has also reacted on Twitter to Bayly's response: "You'll notice he isn't saying he corrected himself or stopped it being a joke or anything like that."
National on Sunday launched the 'Demand the Debate' campaign, calling for a national conversation about the He Puapua report.
The independent report was commissioned by the Government in 2019 and laid out a roadmap for how New Zealand can meet its obligations under the United Nations Declaration of Indigenous People, which was signed by National in 2010.
Earlier this month, the Government began consulting with Māori on the report - with consultation with the wider public also planned. The Government insists the report's contents are not policy and has already ruled out many of its recommendations.
But Collins said Kiwis need a say.
"Kiwis were never told about it at the time and it was never campaigned on by Labour," Collins said on Sunday.
"The He Puapua report contains recommendations for fundamental changes to our legal, constitutional, and democratic governance arrangements. Changes like separate health and justice systems, separate RMA rules, and separate electoral arrangements.
"These proposals must be taken to an election so all Kiwis can have their say."