Majority of Māori want statues honouring colonists to be removed - survey

A survey of 559 Māori has found a majority want statues honouring colonists to be removed, and want more public dedications honouring Māori narratives and stories.

Source: 1 NEWS

An Action Station survey has found 66.5 per cent of participants thought statues and monuments honouring colonists should be removed. Meanwhile, 17.1 per cent thought they should remain and 16.4 per cent were unsure.

One Auckland survey participant from Ngāpuhi, Ngati Whatua, Ngati Hine, said when they saw colonial statues in public places they felt “the cells of my ancestors weeps and rages silently”.

“I am reminded, my children are reminded that we mean less to this society.”

A Wellington-based participant from Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Te Kanawa, Tamainupō, said the statues reinforced “a false narrative about heroic Europeans who came to Aotearoa and civilised this land”. 

“If it weren't for my kuia who came to look after me when our family suffered a car accident, I would have never connected with my Māori whakapapa.

“Many like myself never got this opportunity, and I fear for them they have now fully internalised racism, and they deny their whakapapa, the final victory of colonisation … these statues are part of the ongoing colonial project. Bring them down.”

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The bronze figure depicts British Navy commander Captain John Hamilton, the city’s namesake. Source: 1 NEWS

A Hamilton-based participant from Ngāti Rangi, Te Ati-haunui-a-Pāpārangi, said the statues showed the country doesn’t fully acknowledge or engage with its colonial history.

Of those who thought colonial statues should be removed, the survey found 44 per cent of people wanted the statues to be put in a museum, 27 per cent through they should be disposed of and 15 per cent thought that should be put in a colonial statue park.

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It comes as statues of slave traders and once revered colonial figures are toppled across Britain and the US. Source: 1 NEWS

Ninety-six per cent of survey participants wanted more public dedications, such as art installations, monuments and museums, that honoured Māori stories.

Suggestions for monuments honouring Māori included statues of Papatūānuku, Whina Cooper, the kaitiaki of Ihumātao, Apirana Ngata and activist group Ngā Tamatoa.

The survey was carried out between June 18 to 22.