Māori Party Co-leader and Te Tai Hauāuru candidate Debbie Ngarewa-Packer wants the Government to establish an inquiry focused on identifying and getting rid of racist monuments, statues and names from our colonial era.
The call comes as activists and governments around the world have committed to remove statues and monuments that symbolise racism and oppression.
“What we are seeing right across the world, led by our black brothers and sisters in the USA, is a global push to dismantle systemic racism, including the outdated symbols of that racism,” Mrs Ngarewa-Packer said.
“We still honour some of the most racist and oppressive figures from our colonial history with monuments, statues and place names in towns and cities across the country.
“I am calling on Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her government to work alongside hapū and iwi Māori and other communities of colour in Aotearoa to undertake a comprehensive inquiry into colonial monuments and statues, place names, and street names.
Mrs Ngarewa-Packer acknowledged that local councils had responsibility for names in many cases, but said the Government needed to lead on the issue.
“We need nationwide leadership and an expert-led inquiry with recommendations put to local councils and other relevant groups. We need to address this collectively as Aotearoa.
“We are not saying that all monuments and names from the colonial period should be brought down or changed, that’s why an inquiry should determine which of them are racist, outdated and should go.
“One example of what needs to change is the street names here in Taranaki of those that waged war on our tupuna, including John Bryce who was responsible for the murder of children and led the Parihaka invasion.
“We can no longer hold up people who dedicated their lives to colonialism and the oppression of indigenous and black peoples as role models or symbols of reverence and pride. We should focus on celebrating those who brought us together and fought for the peace, justice and freedom of all peoples.”