Call for street names honouring colonial officers who led attacks on Māori to be changed - 'We’re surrounded by terrorists'

Parts of New Zealand are seeing pushes to remove the names of historical colonial leaders from towns and street names.

Your playlist will load after this ad

Whena Owen has this report on the everyday place names that are a reminder of past injustices. Source: Q+A

Street names around the country commemorate colonial officers, settlers on Māori land and volunteer militia.

In Southern Taranaki, Potanga Neilson of Ngai te Rangi says he is reminded daily of the assault on his iwi.

"As far as I’m concerned, we’re surrounded by terrorists, their names are memorialised on all of our towns and streets."

Close to where Mr Neilson lives, there is a Bryce Street, named after John Bryce who led the invasion of Parihaka of 1600 armed police into the settlement.

"When they robbed them, they robbed me and they robbed my mokopuna as well," he said.

Near Whanganui, Ruta Broughton of Ngati Maika spoke of an attack led by George Maxwell on unarmed Māori boys reportedly aged 10-12 in 1868, which led to the deaths of two and wounded others.

However, she said despite moves to change the name ‘Maxwell’, it had not yet happened.

Tauranga historian Buddy Mikaere of Ngati Pukenga, Ranginui said it is not “thought to be the proper thing to demonise those people” whose names sit on the street signs.

"I don’t," he said. 

"I know there’s a movement to try have this road, Cameron Road, have the road changed, but why would you do that? You can’t expunge your history."

Watch the full story in the video above. 

Q+A is on TVNZ1 Mondays at 9.30pm, and the episode is then available on TVNZ OnDemand and as a podcast in all the usual places.