NZ Herald

All Black and Hurricanes halfback TJ Perenara has spoken about the Black Lives Matter movement saying it’s an important thing to rally and support the cause in New Zealand.

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An estimated 4000 people turned out to the protest in downtown Auckland on Queen’s Birthday; marching from Aotea Square to the United States Consulate General in a show of solidarity the death of US man George Floyd – who died after being pinned underneath a police officer for nine minutes.

“For a big part there’s a lot of positive things happening in the world and there’s also a lot of negative things that individuals and groups are doing in this space,” Perenara said yesterday at a Hurricanes media session.

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Jeff Wilson and the team at Sky Sports NZ preview Round 1 of Super Rugby Aotearoa.

“I firmly stand with Black Lives Matter. I stand with the people who are being affected by it as well.”

“I can’t speak for everyone but some people have taken some responsibility and I think it’s good. I don’t think it [racism] is isolated to America.

“It’s a problem we have in all of the world including our own country. For us to see people rallying and getting behind it and standing with Black Lives Matter is a really important thing for us to do.”

Perenara, who is expected to return to action with the Hurricanes on Sunday at Eden Park, has often been at the forefront of rugby players speaking out about social issues.

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Last year he spoke with LGBTQIA+ publication Express magazine and indicated that the All Blacks would be open to welcome an openly gay teammate.

He said he believed both the team and the New Zealand rugby public shared his inclusive attitude.

“Our job is to make sure that people from all communities feel comfortable enough to aspire to want to be an All Black, so I would hope that if anyone from the LGBTQIA+ community became an All Black, they would feel accepted and wanted in the environment.”

In 2018, when Israel Folau took to Instagram to warn homosexual and others that “Hell awaits you”, Perenara took to social media to join the debate, saying he was “100 per cent against the comments” made by Folau.

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“I’d like to add my voice to the conversation currently taking place,” Perenara wrote on Twitter.

“As professional rugby players, whether we like it or not, we are role models for a lot of young people. Notably, young M?ori and Pasifika people.

“You don’t need to look far to know that young Maori/PI are overrepresented in youth suicide statistics and, as I understand it, even more so when you look to those who are part of the Rainbow community. Comments that cause further harm cannot be tolerated.”

Perenara said Folau’s “harmful” comments were not something he wants to see in rugby.

“Let it go on record that I am 100 per cent against the comments that were made by Israel. It was not okay to say that. It’s not an attitude I want to see in the game I love. There is no justification for such harmful comments.

He was also part of the government-funded advert to encourage New Zealanders to work together to halt the spread of coronavirus.

This article first appeared on nzherald.co.nz and is republished with permission.

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