Hurricanes co-owner Troy Bowker steps down after race comments controversy

Source: 1 NEWS

Hurricanes co-owner Troy Bowker announced he's stepping down after his recent race comments controversy.

Troy Bowker, a shareholder of the Super Rugby franchise, is facing pressure to step away after comments deemed racist.

In a statement released Saturday night, Bowker says he made the decision to step down back in February, before the Linkedin discussion with Sir Ian Taylor hit the headlines this week.

"My discussion on Linkedin In with Sir Ian Taylor was never intended to involve rugby or my involvement with the Hurricanes as a shareholder and board director," the statement reads.

"For at least six months the Hurricanes board has been working through a capital restructure in preparation for the ending of the current license term on 31 August. In February I made the decision to exit my shareholding after 31 August due to the terms of the new license."

Once again Bowker hasn't backed down from his recent comments which have been slammed by many in the NZ rugby world.

"In respect of my comments to which some people have taken offence, I wish to make it clear that I stand behind the theme of what I said and my right to express those views in a free, democratic society," Bowker says.

"I note that Sir Ian Taylor agreed the comments were not racist and welcomed the opportunity to debate the different opinions that had been raised. I agree with him that such debate is healthy and constructive at times when people feel strongly about issues that may polarise or divide and thank him for his willingness to engage.

"I am concerned about the future of our wonderful country where I believe freedom of speech is at risk."

The exchange between Sir Ian and Bowker

Taylor wrote a post on LinkedIn a week ago commenting on National leader Judith Collins’ suggestion to have a referendum on the name of the country.

“This could be a wonderful message for Judith and her friends who want a referendum on the name Aotearoa,” Taylor wrote.

“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’.”

“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.”

Taylor’s post was accompanied with an image of a Captain Cook-era ship and a Māori canoe with a caption asking: “How come NZ excels on the water in yachting rowing, kayaking etc?”

“Answer: Our ancestral DNA,” was written by the picture of the Māori canoe.

Bowker slammed the post in a reply.

“What a load of absolute nonsense! Another example of European NZers not being proud of their own ancestors and sucking up to the left Māori loving agenda. FFS. Wake up NZ,” he wrote.

Bowker and Taylor continued the exchange in the comments with the Hurricanes part-owner at one point asking the animation entrepreneur: “what percentage Maori are you?”

“Please show some pride and respect for the achievements of your own ancestors like the Maori do. Worshipping Maori like you are doing is disrespectful to your other ancestors,” he continued.

In a statement to 1 NEWS, Bowker said he stood by the comments.

“My exchange with Ian Taylor was in response to his politically driven LinkedIn post regarding the debate about using the name Aotearoa and questioning Judith Collins’ motives.

He posted a cartoon that attempted to justify the NZ Olympic success in water sports by reference to Māori sailing achievements that are ‘in our DNA’.

"There is no doubt his post was political in nature, hence my response. I pointed out: One. That the post was a load of nonsense, two, we as a country should be proud of our ancestors whether they are European or Māori. I did not say Māori should not be proud of their ancestors. I was simply pointing out that Europeans should be equally as proud and that his post did not do that and was essentially glorifying only Māori DNA and not European.”

“I stand by all those comments.”

The Hurricanes distanced themselves from their part-owner’s comments, saying they “do not support the remarks in question”.

"Troy is not an employee of the Hurricanes. As a part owner of the Hurricanes, Troy is entitled to a Directors 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 Super Rugby club said in a statement.

Bowker said the comments had nothing to do with his involvement with the Hurricanes.

“With regards to my Hurricanes association, my views are my own and nothing to do with rugby. I regularly make political and business comments on issues that I feel need to be said. These are my own views,” he wrote in a statement to 1 NEWS.