The premier of New Zealand, John Key, has apologized to an anonymous waitress for pulling her hair at a restaurant he says he frequents, noting that he was just having fun. During an interview with One News, the premier said that he gets along with the staff at the cafe where the incident took place, calling it a “fun relationship.”
“There’s always lots of horsing around and sort of practical jokes and that’s all there really was to it.”
But what he thought may have sounded like a fun idea turned out to be one that was not welcome. The New Zealand premier was called out by an unnamed waitress via a post on the Daily Blog. The waitress wrote that it all began around election season.
“In the beginning, the first time he pulled on my hair, I remember thinking to myself he’s probably just trying to be playful and jolly, seeing as the general consensus of most who meet him is ‘he’s such a nice guy.'”
She ignored his gesture the first time it happened, but she grew tired of it when the premier did it numerous times afterward.
“Despite my obvious annoyance, I didn’t comment on his behaviour [sic]. It then happened yet again when he next visited the cafe and again, I didn’t respond verbally, but everything about my body language screamed, I DON’T LIKE THAT.”
Looking back on the incident, the premier told One News that his actions were inappropriate.
“In the context of we have lots of fun and games there, there’s always practical jokes and things. It’s a very warm, friendly relationship. In that context you’d say yes, but if you look at it now, no.”
Talking to the New Zealand Herald, one customer, identified only as Joyce, said she’s confused as to what motivated the premier to do such a thing.
“It is very strange. I just think it’s out of character that he does that. I would be interested to know what makes him think it’s okay to do that.”
A spokeswoman for Key told the New Zealand Herald that he apologizes for his actions, reiterating that the premier and the staff “have a good relationship.”
“His actions were intended to be light-hearted. It was never his intention to make her feel uncomfortable and he has apologized to her.”
But this is not the first time that New Zealand’s premier has pulled on someone’s hair in the public eye. Reddit users have begun collecting various images, which can be found here, showing Key tugging on the hair of multiple people.
— Mark Di Stefano (@MarkDiStef) April 23, 2015
[Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images]