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TJ Perenara calls out Hurricanes board member's 'racism' comments

By Sam Smith
(Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

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All Blacks star TJ Perenara has labelled a Hurricanes board member’s comments “sucking up to Maori” comments as “insulting” and said he would be “seeking answers”.


Hurricanes board member Troy Bowker last week accused animation entrepreneur Sir Ian Taylor of “sucking up to the left Maori? loving agenda” while commenting on a LinkedIn post made by Taylor in response to National Party leader Judith Collins’ backing for a referendum on the use of the name Aotearoa for New Zealand.

Bowker, executive chairman of Wellington-based investment company Caniwi Capital, called the post “absolute nonsense” as he labelled Taylor, who is of Maori heritage, as a European New Zealander who is “not proud of their own ancestors”.

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“What a load of absolute nonsense,” Bowker’s comment reads. “Another example of European NZers not being proud of their own ancestors and sucking up t0 the left Maori loving agenda. FFS. Wake up NZ.”

Perenara, a Hurricanes centurion and former captain of the franchise, called Bowker’s comments out on Wednesday as he took to Twitter to call for answers.

“Troy Bowker’s comments with their underlying racism are insulting. I’ve begun conversations with other players and management, and expect these conversations to continue over the coming days,” Perenara wrote.

“As with other franchises, Hurricanes players past and present have come from a range of different backgrounds. Our collective identities have long provided us with a source of strength and pride.


“The mental, emotional, and cultural safety of our players is crucial and needs to be assured. Our supporters deserve better and should be able to back us without feeling conflicted.

“Right now I can’t see how these things can happen if the status quo is maintained, and am seeking answers as to what the next steps are. Tungia te ururua kia tupu, whakaritorito te tupu o te harakeke. Mauri ora.”

The Hurricanes chairman Iain Potter, meanwhile, said while the franchise does not support Bowker’s comments, it cannot control his opinions as the board member was not an employee of the club.

“As a part owner of the Hurricanes, Troy is entitled to a director’s role and consequently, we are not in a position to control his opinions when he speaks and represents himself or his businesses outside of rugby. The Hurricanes do not support the remarks in question,” Potter said.


Taylor’s post on LinkedIn linked to a Tom Scott cartoon with the words: “How come NZ excels on the water in yachting, rowing, kayaking etc? Answer: Our ancestral DNA!”

Taylor, whose firm Animation Research Limited is famous for its America’s Cup and global sports graphics, said it could be a “wonderful message for Judith and her friends who want a referendum on the name Aotearoa”.

“Our Polynesian ancestors set out across the Pacific Ocean, Te Moana Nui a Kiwa, at the same time that the Egyptians were building the pyramids, and arrived here to a place they called the Land of the Long White Cloud (that’s Aotearoa Judith) 600 years before a Dutchman sailed by, without bothering to stop, claiming this already inhabited land as his by simply adding the word “New” to the place he called home .. ‘Zeeland’,” Taylor said.

“If we are going to have a debate about naming rights let’s do it fully informed about the amazing feat of the Pacific Voyagers who named the whenua where they settled.”


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