National | Monument

Māori statue list undergoing iwi consultation; announcement pending

Statue of Kupe, the legendary explorer, navigator and Rangatira of Hawaiki, with his wife, Hine Te Apārangi, and his tohunga Pekahourangi on the Wellington waterfront. / Supplied

Te Arawhiti, the Office for Māori-Crown Relations, has developed a preferred list of Māori who'll be memorialized as statues.

But their identity is still under wraps.

A spokesman for the agency says discussions are still being held with whānau and iwi leaders about the process.

The government announced $1 million for Māori statues in June last year but Covid-19 had delayed the project.

Te Arawhiti is hopeful work will resume later this year.

A survey by Otago University in 2018-2019 found only seven of 123 statues in outdoor public settings portray Māori. The statue of Samoan rugby hero, Sir Michael Jones, in Eden Park is the only statue of a Pacific Islander.

Most of the statue subjects were of men (87 per cent) and Europeans (93 per cent).

Lead researcher Professor Nick Wilson says the survey also found almost a quarter had been attacked at least once.

Those involved in colonialism and harm to Māori were much more likely to be attacked.

Professor Wilson believed this would be less likely in the future if governments could deal better with the ongoing consequences of colonialism and inequality.

“Instead of statues, we could have more memorial libraries, sports centres, parks, gardens or even single ‘memorial trees’.”

The survey didn't include Māori leaders whose statues are located on marae, as it focused solely on public land.