Rotorua has "much more important things" to focus on than a stockcar club waving Confederate flags, the city's MP says.
Rotorua Stockcar Club teams the Rebels and the Rascals have been represented by the flag for decades but last week the use of the flag was met with strong opposition.
The club secretary has since refused to comment on the issue but the club has confirmed in a statement on its website and Facebook page that members will reconsider their use of the flag at their annual general meeting in July.
The statement said the club had "become embroiled in a controversy over the use of what we call our Rebel flag", which was "innocently introduced to the club around 1985 and has become the symbol of our club, racing teams and their supporters ever since".
When asked about the Rotorua Stockcar Club's use of the Confederate flag yesterday, Rotorua MP Todd McClay said he did not "think they should change it".
"They've [the teams have] used this flag for a period of time and nobody's taken offence previously."
He said there were "much more important things we need to focus on to help local people ... like people losing their jobs".
"This just feels like a bit of a bandwagon."
However, Waiariki MP Tāmati Coffey hoped "they [club members] arrive at a yes for change".
"I commend the club for committing to review the use of the flag. With the Government committing to teaching New Zealand history in schools, there will be more revising of our history and symbols of oppression and we shouldn't be afraid of that. It shows maturity."
Coffey said in his opinion, "politicians who don't confront that have their heads in the sand".
Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick would not give her stance on the club's flag but said "anything that symbolises disharmony should be well thought through".
For Black Lives Matter Auckland solidarity spokeswoman Shalane Williams, the club's continued use of the flag was "a metaphoric slap in the face for the black community" that gave the impression members "don't care" about black people in New Zealand.
In her opinion, "the choice to have it [the flag] was either salacious or racist".
"Why did they choose it as their symbol in the first place? The history of the Confederate flag is well-known and well-documented."
She hoped the Black Lives Matter protests in New Zealand were "forcing people to acknowledge what's happening around them and do some self-reflection on their complicity in permitting white supremacist ideologies".
The Rotorua Stockcar Club's statement said: "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."
Speedway New Zealand general manager Zoe Irons would not comment.
Black Creatives Aotearoa founder Dione Joseph has previously said seeing the flag used to represent a car racing team in New Zealand was "very disappointing, and for any black person, whether a local from here or overseas, this is deeply disturbing".
Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon has previously said the flag was "politically loaded" and "associated with racial division and intolerance".
Last week the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (Nascar) banned the Confederate flag 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.