Troy Bowker via Stuff
Troy Bowker via Stuff

Peter Williams: Hurricanes fans, TJ Perenara - Troy Bowker is not racist

Peter Williams 12/08/2021

OPINION: The insipid cancel culture is doing a lot of damage to NZ.

What do we make of this carry on with the Hurricanes rugby team and one of their owners Troy Bowker? Now regular listeners to this show will know of Troy Bowker. We’ve had him on here quite often because he’s a man of ideas and opinions. We’ve had him on here talking about the capital gains tax, the hypocrisy of electric vehicle manufacture and on allowing high net worth individuals to come and live in New Zealand as long as they bring a big chunk of their money. Opinions which I thought were eminently sensible.

He’s an entrepreneur, a type A personality who takes risks and has made a decent amount of money in his time, and along the way employed a good number of people. He’s the kind of guy who, in that respect, should be encouraged in our community.

But like many he appears to have become frustrated with the increasing use of the name Aotearoa, and he’d support Judith Collins idea of a referendum on the issue. But Sir Ian Taylor had posted on Linkedin the  Tom Scott cartoon about this country’s seafaring heritage, saying that would be a wonderful message for “Judith and her friends” who want a referendum.

Troy Bowker then waded in, by the sounds of things not knowing much about Ian Taylor’s heritage, and saying that Taylor was 95 percent European, and that the Vikings and the Romans were just as good at sailing and maritime activities as the first people to arrive by sea in this country. And he accused Taylor of sucking up to the left loving Maori agenda.

So it was a scrap between a couple of entrepreneurs which if Troy Bowker was not part owner of the Hurricanes rugby team would probably have died a very quiet death if it wasn’t for the rugby connection.

But because a good chunk of Bowker money props up the Hurricanes and contributes to the running costs of the team, one of the more outspoken members of the Hurricanes playing staff, TJ Perenara wants something done about Bowker, and then a couple of politicians decide they’ll be considering their presence at Hurricanes games in the future if Troy Bowker stays as a shareholder and board member. And to complete the pile on the boss of the Maori Authority Matthew Tukaki has now called him racist scum. Which is hardly adding any class to the discussion. In fact, I think for a man of Tukaki’s supposed standing in Maoridom, that insult is a disgrace.

Calling someone a racist seems to be the first thing that comes to mind for certain parts of NZ when they don’t agree with something that is said. That’s actually the problem here. Hence my call for NZ to wake up to the danger of the insipid cancel culture that is doing a lot of damage to NZ.

So a few questions. Who is being racist here? Bowker, for suggesting that other ethnicities were quite good sailors too? Judith Collins for wanting a referendum on what the country’s name should be? Ian Taylor for suggesting that Aotearoa was the name that these lands were given when the first polynesians arrived here 800 or 900 years ago? A suggestion that most historians would not agree with.

The rugby connection is frankly irrelevant. I imagine it makes up a small part of Troy Bowker’s business interests. And the baseline issue here is the idea of a referendum on the country’s name. What is so wrong with the idea? The issue has been dismissed as irrelevant. Really? Surely the name of something is the absolute key to a person or a place’s identity? If you change your name, you only do it after a good deal of thought.

If a country wants to change its name officially it should do so in a democratic and measured way.  We all know very well why the political class don’t want such a democratic activity - they know what the result will most likely be. The majority will want to retain New Zealand. And there is a certain group of people in this country who are just not prepared to accept democratic outcomes anymore. And that is the most worrying aspect of this entire episode. 

Catch Peter Williams every weekday from 9am on Magic Talk.