28 May 2013

Former Fonterra boss apologises for China comment

8:14 pm on 28 May 2013

The former chair of New Zealand's largest exporter has apologised for warning exporters to never trust the Chinese.

Sir Henry van der Heyden, former chair of dairy cooperative Fonterra, made the comments at a conference in Tauranga at the weekend.

Speaking about the Chinese, he told those attending: "Don't ever trust them, never".

Sir Henry says the comments need to be taken in context and he was very positive about the country.

He told Radio New Zealand's Checkpoint programme that he has apologised to China, its government and its people.

"It was an ill-judged comment that I made and I do regret actually making the comment."

Sir Henry says what he was trying to say was that businesses need to be aware that the culture and way things are done in China is different.

Sir Henry is on the board of Auckland International Airport and will be the chairperson later this year taking over from Joan Withers. He attended his last meeting as a director of the Fonterra board on Tuesday.