Jacinda Ardern denies pushing for Crusaders name change

News 09/04/2019

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is denying reports she is applying pressure on the Crusaders to change their name in the wake of the Christchurch terror attacks.

On Tuesday morning, NZME reported Ardern was driving a push for the rugby team to change their name. 

Many have questioned whether it was appropriate for a team to be named after the Christian Crusaders, who slayed Muslims in an attempt to take the Holy Land in the Middle East, after the terror attacks.

But the Prime Minister has told The AM Show any suggestion she is applying pressure on the team to change their name was "inaccurate". She told The AM Show "No, I saw that story, and I thought that was odd."

I have not expressed an opinion publicly, nor even private actually, I haven't even mused about it to anyone to be able to speculate

"Apparently, I have been applying pressure, I didn't even know about it... it is inaccurate."

Sports Minister Grant Robertson was also reported to be involved, but Ardern again said that was wrong.

"I have checked in with him as well. He is the same as me, so I don't know where that story has come from."

She admitted it was "great that the discussion is being held", but wants to leave any considerations to the team's management.

"At the moment, given there is so much speculation over my opinion, you'll appreciate why I would want to stand back from it.

Even if I speculate or give a hypothetical it turns into something, and I genuinely want to leave this one.

Earlier this month, NZ Rugby (NZR) said outside consultants had been engaged to oversee changes after the team's imagery of knights brandishing swords was seen as no longer tenable.

"In the wake of the Christchurch attacks, it is apparent that the symbolism the club has used, combined with the 'Crusaders' name, is offensive to some in the community, due to its association with the religious Crusades between Christians and Muslims," said NZR chief executive Steve Tew.

The AM Show / Newshub reporter Jamie Ensor.