Thursday, August 17, 2017

Our own memorial problem

This week we've all been made aware of the problem of the USA commemorating the leaders of the racist, slave-owning Confederacy with public monuments. Meanwhile, there's a similar problem in New Zealand. Via Twitter, I was pointed at a map of the street names in Kihikihi, which points out just how problematic those names are:

Feb 1864 Pākehā soldiers looted & destroyed KIHIKIHI, and scattered the tangata whenua population. The stolen lands in Kihikihi were used to settle Pākehā milita families. Nearly every street in Kihikihi is named after a soldier or politician who ruthlessly pursued war against tangata whenua.

And I expect its the same story all over New Zealand. As the original tweet notes, imagine living in a street named after someone who murdered your whanau.

We should not be doing this. We should not be naming our streets after murderers and oppressors who stole Māori land. We're meant to be a better nation than that now, and its time we started acting like it, rather than memorialising oppression.