The Rotorua Stockcar Club will reconsider its teams' symbol - the Confederate flag - next month.
The club has confirmed members will decide whether to "rebrand" at their Annual General Meeting in July, after its continued use of the flag was deemed "very disappointing" and "deeply disturbing" by a black community leader in New Zealand last week.
The flag has been a prominent symbol representing the Rotorua Rebels and Rotorua Rascals stockcar teams for decades.
Last week the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (Nascar) banned the Confederate flag, which had been a regular sight at US and Canadian stock car events for more than 70 years, from its races and properties.
The decision followed the international outcry over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died while being restrained by police in Minneapolis last month, prompting Black Lives Matter protests around the world.
Following Nascar's decision, Rotorua Stockcar Club secretary Sonja Hickey, who oversees teams and promotions, said she had "no comment" to make about the flag.
However, the club posted a new statement on its website yesterday and on Facebook.
"The Rotorua Stockcar Club Inc has become embroiled in a controversy over the use of what we call our Rebel flag," it said.
"This flag was innocently introduced to the club around 1985 and has become the symbol of our club, racing teams and their supporters ever since.
"Just like the swastika, to the Hindus it means good fortune, to the Nazis it has a whole different meaning, and the Canterbury Crusaders had a similar issue after the mosque shootings in Christchurch last year."
The statement was not attributed to anyone in particular but went on to say: "I think the position of the Club couldn't be put better than in a recent Facebook post by Steve 'The Māori' Daniels."
"'I'm Māori and have spent over three decades of my life in New Zealand speedway. Rotorua Speedway has more Māori drivers than arguably any other speedway club in New Zealand.
"The Confederate flag is something in recent years which has been considered a hate flag in America. When it was originally used in little old Rotorua, there was no thought of hate or racism.
"I'm sure there could be a rebrand in the near future and bring in some cultural and geographical significance. There is no way Rotorua Speedway could ever be considered racist with intent.'"
The statement finished by saying: "Whilst there may or may not be a rebrand, like the Canterbury Crusaders this decision will be done democratically by our members at our Annual General Meeting."
Last week, Black Creatives Aotearoa founder Dione Joseph called for the club to oust the flag.
"Seeing it used to represent a car racing team here in Aotearoa is very disappointing, and for any black person, whether a local from here or overseas, this is deeply disturbing," Joseph said.
She said the flag was "a relic of ingrained racism towards black Americans" from the American Civil War and "a symbol of hate and oppression" used by white supremacist groups.
"Fresh from a week of protests and marches over the ongoing racism towards black bodies, now would be a perfect time for the Rotorua Rebels to re-evaluate their choices."
Joseph suggested the team follow Nascar's lead.
"Not only choose a symbol more appropriate but take the opportunity to condemn racism and the ongoing injustice to black bodies.
"We have members of the black New Zealand community, including young children in Rotorua - make this change for them, make it for all our tamariki."
Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon said it would be in ''provocative'' to continue to use the Confederate flag in a sports club setting.
Nascar's decision indicated using the flag "runs contrary to [their] commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for their fans and competitors".
He said the flag was "politically loaded" and "associated with racial division and intolerance".
"People have the right to freedom of expression. However, it is equally important for people to be thoughtful about how they express themselves."