National | Hurricanes (Rugby)

Hurricanes board member out after racist comments

Troy Bowker the board member of the Hurricanes condemned for racist remarks about “the left Māori loving agenda” and the ‘percentage Māori’ of sporting tech entrepreneur Sir Ian Taylor, is stepping aside from his role at the team.

Bowker will also sell his part stake in the Super Rugby franchise.

The Wellington businessman and now former Hurricanes director lashed out against Sir Ian after he argued Māori should be a decision-maker in changing the country’s name from New Zealand to Aotearoa.

“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 said.

“Another example of European New Zealanders not being proud of their own ancestors and sucking up to the left Māori loving agenda. FFS. Wake up NZ,” wrote Bowker.

“What percentage Māori are you?” he asked Taylor.

The Hurricanes were quick to distance the team from Bowker’s comments. Halfback TJ Perenara also labelled Bowker’s comments "racist and insulting".

Commercial pressures began to weigh on the team in the week since Bowker’s comments.

Kāpura, a Māori hospitality business with more than 800 staff and a significant sponsor of the Hurricanes, threatened to pull its funding on Thursday.

"We obviously let them know we didn't think it was the right alignment for the Hurricanes," Chief Executive Jamie Williams told NZME.

Bowker had doubled down on his comments during the week but in a statement late Saturday night he announced he was divesting from the team.

“My discussion on LinkedIn with Sir Ian Taylor was never intended to involve rugby or my involvement with the Hurricanes as a shareholder and board director,” Bowker said.

Bowker says the Hurricanes have been working through a capital restructure for several months and that has meant now is an opportune time to divest from the team.

“I understand other private investors are also taking the opportunity to change their shareholding. The Hurricanes Board will confirm that these discussions have been taking place for several months and I have now notified the Chairman that I intend to accept the offer which has been made for my shares on terms with which I am very happy,” he wrote.

Bowker says he will not be commenting further on the issue.