New Zealand’s beer industry has come out in force against racism following comments made by the founder, director and majority owner of Canterbury-based Eagle Brewing and Port & Eagle Brewpub.
David Gaughan, who started Eagle Brewing in 2010 under the name Golden Eagle, responded to a news article posted on Facebook on Wednesday about two shootings in Napier by saying “Māori are the scurge [sic] of New Zealand. The quicker we put them in prison the better.”
It caused a backlash on social media, with people calling out the post as racist and giving the brewery bad reviews.
The country’s beer industry has been quick to condemn the comments, with breweries, bars, beer retailers and other companies and organisations in the sector posting public statements against racism and bigotry.
The Brewers Guild of New Zealand denounced the racist remarks on social media, saying hate does not belong in the beer industry.
It said the brewery is not a member of the Guild, nor had they been for some time, and went on to state that the Guild does not condone racism, discrimination, or abuse of any kind.
The Guild’s executive director, Sabrina Kunz, says if a member was to make racist or abusive comments online, or in person, there is a process under the Guild’s rules to terminate them.
“I know that our Board would support the removal of a member for racist, discriminatory or abusive conduct and I am very confident that our entire membership would too,” Kunz said.
“The Guild is a small organisation, and while we haven’t been able to do as much direct work in this area as we would like, we have provided some guidance to our members.”
Kunz said that in 2018, the Guild released template employment agreements with a suggested code of conduct, which included a provision to not tolerate bullying, harassment or unlawful discrimination. She said the Guild has recently updated those templates and strengthened the code of conduct around respecting diversity. These new versions are due for release in the coming weeks.
Liquor stores, online beer retailers and bars across the country have pulled Eagle products from their taps and shelves in response to Gaughan’s comments, with many posting public messages on their social media and websites condemning his behaviour.
In a statement sent to Brews News and posted on the Facebook pages of Eagle Brewing NZ and its Port & Eagle brewpub, Gaughan says he is sorry for his remarks.
“On Wednesday evening I made a comment on social media that was completely unacceptable. I want to apologise unreservedly for making the comment, and for the large amount of hurt and anger it has caused,” he said.
Gaughan said his comments were right to be called out by the public, and he would be taking some time away from the business to reflect on what has happened.
The public statement follows several now-deleted apology attempts by Gaughan and his business partner and wife, Marilyn Yoseres.
Gaughan originally posted a statement on his personal Facebook page on Friday morning, following the initial public backlash. It said: “I am aware of one of my comments posted on a NZ news page which is misconstrued as racism. I would like to apologise for the way in which this post has been perceived. I denounce all forms of racism and I am in no way biased to any one culture.”
He went on to say his intention was “to highlight the unacceptable issue of violence against women, which is statistically higher in some cultures.”
His wife and part-owner of Eagle Brewing and its brewpub, Marilyn Yoseres, posted to the Eagle Brewing NZ Facebook page an apology of her own, and said Gaughan had resigned from the business and decided to delete his social media profile.
“Same as you I am not happy with what has transpired on social media regarding David’s comment over Maoris [sic]. I cannot express enough how sorry I am and how devastated I am that in a blink of an eye, another of this damaging remark [sic] is said to put the business in a grave position of collapse.”
Yoseres went on to say Gaughan had been drinking, and the post had not intended to be an attack on Māori.
Yoseres’ Facebook post was subsequently deleted from the Eagle Brewing page, and replaced by another, shorter post with a similar sentiment, but without attribution. That too was taken down.
Gaughan has since clarified to Brews News he has not yet taken the decision to resign.
Brews News understands investors in the Port & Eagle brewpub, which raised capital through a crowd-funding campaign in 2018, have not yet been contacted by the company about what has happened.
One investor says they’ve had next-to-no communication from Eagle Brewing since the capital-raising project three years ago, and that investors haven’t even been invited to any AGMs, despite that being promised under the crowd-funding deal.