Puutikitiki St officially unveiled as Hamilton rids itself of part of its dark history

Von Tempksy Street in Hamilton City has officially disappeared and been replaced with an old name that reflects the history of the mana whenua.

Puutikitiki Street in Hamilton East was officially blessed at a ceremony attended by mana whenua representatives, councillors and members of the public today, including those who have long agitated for change.

Hana-Rawhiti Maipi, whose grandfather Taitimu has campaigned for decades for the removal of street names of colonial leaders responsible for massacres of Māori and invasion of pā to be removed, says while it isn't something to celebrate, it is a special moment for mana whenua and indigenous peoples as a whole as change continues to happen.

"Kua roa nei a Ngāi Māori, otirā ngā iwi taketake o te ao e kaha porotēhi ana i ngā ingoa kaikiri otirā i ngā tūmomo statues o te ao e pēhi nei i ngā iwi taketake, i ngā mahi kaikiri ki o mātou tūpuna."
(Māori people, and indigenous peoples globally have long been protesting against these memorials to people who continue to cause pain and remind us of the persecution our ancestors suffered.)

Hamilton city councillors made the decision in April to change the name of Von Tempsky St, named for Gustav von Tempsky in 1906 by the then Hamilton Borough Council "in honour of the hero of the Waikato War" according to media accounts at the time.

Hana-Rawhiti Maipi gives her thoughts on Puutikitiki Street name change.

Responsible for slaughter

Von Temspky was a commander of the Forest Rangers, an elite unit that specialised in 'irregular warfare' and was responsible for the slaughter of hundreds of Māori at battles including Pāterangi and Ōrākau.

He ultimately met his fate in Taranaki at the hands of Tītokowaru and his war party at Te Ngutu o te Manu. Similar campaigns are underway to remove von Tempsky, and other colonial war figures from street names there.

Change is happening on the streets.

Hamilton mayor Paula Southgate says the council is committed to continued discussions about street names in the city as part of its He Pou Manawa Ora strategy.

"This is just one little bit. We will go forward now and see the wider strategy. Of course we've got two new Māori ward councillors now. They'll keep us very honest on that."

Piripi Matika of Ngāti Wairere, which is the mana whenua in the area where Puutikitiki takes its name, says it is inevitable that more changes will take place across the country as momentum grows.

"They're going to happen and that's a great thing."