Jacinda Ardern's 2017 donation from Troy Bowker

Author
Claire Trevett, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 16 Aug 2021, 1:54PM
(Photo / File)
(Photo / File)

Jacinda Ardern's 2017 donation from Troy Bowker

Author
Claire Trevett, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 16 Aug 2021, 1:54PM

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is among the politicians to have received a donation from Troy Bowker's company Caniwi Capital, getting $5000 during the Mt Albert byelection in 2017.

Last week, Bowker came under fire from several politicians – including Speaker Trevor Mallard and Sports Minister Grant Robertson – after Bowker accused Sir Ian Taylor on social media of "sucking up to the left Māori loving agenda" for supporting the name Aotearoa for New Zealand.

"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."

Ardern described those comments to Newsroom as "astonishing and appalling".

She was also asked about $51,000 in donations from Bowker to minister Stuart Nash since 2014, and said Nash had made it clear he would not accept any further donations from Bowker.

She did not reveal she too had received a donation from Bowker.

Election returns show Bowker's Caniwi Capital donated $5000 to her campaign for the Mt Albert byelection in 2017, before she became Labour leader. There are no other donations in the returns: candidates have to disclose donations of more than $1500.

The Prime Minister's office has been approached for comment.

In the past, Bowker has also donated to NZ First and the Act Party.

Bowker was a critic of Labour's former policy of a capital gains tax, and has been critical of the changes Labour has made on the bright-line test and tax deductibility for investment properties.

Bowker's comments were criticised by Speaker Trevor Mallard, who said he would boycott Hurricanes games until Bowker was no longer involved.

Sports Minister Grant Robertson also weighed in, calling the comments "appalling" and he was also considering a boycott.

Hurricanes player TJ Perenara described the comments as insulting and "underlying racism".

Bowker said last week he was giving up his co-ownership of the Hurricanes rugby franchise, but said that was due to a restructure rather than the reaction to his comments.

He stood by the comments he had made and his right to make them, saying they were not racist.

He also questioned whether Ardern would be "willing to comment on whether my remarks would be considered Hate Speech, prosecutable under the proposed legislation?"

Act leader David Seymour has now asked the same question about the proposed changes to the hate speech law, saying it remained unclear whether political speech would be sanctioned under that law.

He said the Cabinet paper on the proposed law stated a person can be jailed for up to three years for "the incitement of disharmony, based on an intent to stir up, maintain or normalise hatred, through threatening, abusive, or insulting communications".

"It is difficult to see how the law would not apply to Bowker's comments.

"Without the hate speech laws, a robust debate has taken place. Troy Bowker has exited his shareholding of the Hurricanes, thousands of people from sports stars to editorial writers to social media users have expressed their views on the comments. That is civil society and free speech in action."