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Petition seeks removal of Wakefield statues, and renaming of Wakefield St and Wakefield Park

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A student at Victoria University has launched a petition for the removal of Wellington statues that commemorate Edward Gibbon Wakefield and his brother William Wakefield, and for the renaming of Wakefield Street and Wakefield Park. Safari Hynes, who has launched the petition, writes:

Statues and public monuments show what we as a society stand for and the values we hold. It pains me that we elevate and proudly promote public dedications to the memory of people who have caused harm, hurt and destruction to Māori.

Currently in Wellington we have monuments, streets and other public dedications to the memory of two people who represent the enduring harmful legacy of colonisation: the brothers Edward and William Wakefield.

How can we, in good conscience, maintain monuments, street names and public dedications to two colonial figures who abducted a 15 year-old, and swindled land out of Māori hands, progressing the systematic colonisation of this land?

Let’s remove the memorials that glorify people who enabled the colonisation of Aotearoa. Join me in calling on the Wellington City Council to remove all monuments, street names and public dedications to the Wakefield brothers, William and Edward.

I believe the conversation about what we do with our colonial statues and monuments should be led by the whakaaro (thoughts, perspectives) of those who were colonised and harmed – tangata whenua.

In a recent ActionStation survey of 559 Māori people, a majority agreed that statues and monuments that honour colonists should be removed from our towns and cities. 96% also agreed there should be more public dedications (for example art installations, monuments, museums) that honour Māori narratives and stories in our towns and cities.

Let’s replace the Wakefield dedications with street names and statues decided by tangata whenua.

Edward Gibbon Wakefield and William Wakefield were brothers, born in England. They were both imprisoned for three years for abducting a 15 year-old girl, Ellen Turner. Edward then created the New Zealand Company, an enterprise designed to bring systematic colonisation to New Zealand. William, in charge of the Company, made many dishonest purchases of land from Māori in central New Zealand to establish Wellington.

I feel when monuments are made to people such as the Wakefields it implies we agree with and value these ideologies of colonisation.

A bronze bust of Edward Wakefield sits on Mt Victoria and a concrete structure dedicated to William Wakefield sits at the Basin Reserve. There is also Wakefield Street and other public dedications.

Add your name to remove these monuments and rename Wakefield Street and Wakefield Park.

In recent weeks, statues dedicated to slave owners and colonists around the world have been taken down – either by councils or communities of colour. It’s time to examine our own monuments to racism. Last month, following a formal request from iwi Waikato-Tainui, the Hamilton City Council removed the statue of Captain John Hamilton. Local Māori had been making these requests since the statue went up in 2013, but they were finally heard in response to the global uprising of the Black Lives Matter movement.

I’ve started this petition because I like to think that in 2020 we have left their ideologies far behind us. Add your name to bring down William and Edward Wakefield

Ngā mihi nui,
Safari Hynes

Tini whetū ki te rangi, ko Rangitāne ki te whenua. Like multitude of stars in the sky, so is Rangitāne on the land.

Kia ora tātou. Ko Safari taku ingoa (my name is Safari), I am principally from Rangitāne whose boundaries extend from Tamaki Nui a Rua (Dannevirke), to Manawatū (Palmerston North), across to Wairarapa, to Te Whanganui a Tara (Wellington Region), and finally across to Te Waipounamu (the South Island). I was born and raised in Pito-one (Petone), in Te Awakairangi (Lower Hutt), in Te Whanganui a Tara. I went to Whakatupuranga Kotahi Kōhanga Reo, Petone Central School and Hutt Valley High School. I am now a second-year student at Te Herenga Waka – Victoria University of Wellington studying te reo Māori and Law. Two of my life goals are to: establish my own kōhanga reo; and to establish a marae in Te Whanganui a Tara for Rangitāne residing here.

7 comments:

  1. Geoff, 15. July 2020, 16:42

    Te Rauparaha was a slave trader and torturer. Should we remove his monument too.

     
  2. CC, 15. July 2020, 23:10

    Geoff, an interesting commentary on history but is it accurate? Wasn’t Te Rauparaha originally a slave who became a warrior leader who took no prisoners? Also, wasn’t his memorial in Otaki an acknowledgment of his conversion to Christianity and principal role in the building of Rangiatea? Sure, he was responsible for leading his forces against other Iwi and British ‘invaders’ but his effectiveness was enhanced by being supplied with ‘new’ generation weaponry and the ability to use overwhelming military force, doubtless, for the ulterior motives of others. After all, he was responsible for the dubious sale of land to the New Zealand Company – the Wakefields. His sponsors were not unlike more modern equivalents of the 20th century and ongoing through to the present time.

     
  3. Larcus Mush, 16. July 2020, 18:50

    Another desperate cry from the woke brigade; hopefully these crys fall on deaf ears.

     
  4. D'Esterre, 17. July 2020, 10:15

    Oh please. Not another try at metaphorical book-burning, surely. This is our history, warts and all: no attempts at erasure of this sort will make the smallest difference to the past. In that regard, the die is well and truly cast. Putting up statues to, and commemorating in other ways, prominent 19th century Maori, will come crashing up against the reality of their own histories. These were all men of their times, who behaved according to prevailing social mores. If you want to put up statues and the like to Maori of the past, recent or otherwise, knock yourselves out. But leave alone the statues and place names which commemorate our European past; this is also a part of our heritage.

     
  5. Peter Lucas, 18. July 2020, 9:14

    Knock yourself out .. and sign this petition.

     
  6. Peter Kerr, 18. July 2020, 11:28

    Before the rhetoric becomes overpowering, let me recommend A Sort of Conscience: The Wakefields by Philip Temple, Auckland University Press, Auckland. (2002). Indeed, the family were scoundrels.
    As for statues, they lose meaning quickly, as P.B. Shelley reminds us:

    “Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
    Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
    The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

     
  7. Northland, 18. July 2020, 17:43

    There’s no reason to keep statues or road names celebrating persons of dubious historical merit. Statues, road names and place names should celebrate the best of us including all sections of society.

    Get rid of Wakefield. How about more statues to the sorts of people who make positive contributions to our society – for example anyone listed here.