Thursday, June 11, 2020

We should not celebrate racists, thieves and slavers

Following the removal of a number of racist monuments overseas by Black Lives matter protesters, the Māori Party has called for a review of similar monuments and symbols in New Zealand:

Māori Party Co-leader and Te Tai Hauāuru candidate Debbie Ngarewa-Packer is calling on the Government to establish an inquiry that is focused on identifying and getting rid of racist monuments, statues and names from our colonial era.


“We still honour some of the most racist and oppressive figures from our colonial history with monuments, statues and place names in towns and cities across the country.

“I am calling on Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her government to work alongside hapū and iwi Māori and other communities of colour in Aotearoa to undertake a comprehensive inquiry into colonial monuments and statues, place names, and street names.

As for why, all over the country Māori have to walk down streets named after people who literally murdered their ancestors. We have place names and public monuments celebrating land thieves, slave-owners, and torturers. The town I live in, Palmerston North, is named after the fucker who started the opium wars and who evicted and starved his tenants to death during the Great Hunger.

Place names and monuments are not about history. They are about what we glorify and celebrate. And who we (or rather, our ancestors) have chosen to glorify and celebrate as a society is sick and wrong. We can, we should, change that. As for how, given the scale of the problem, a national inquiry seems more than justified. The alternative is to leave it to people to chip away locally. And in the case of monuments, that will probably be literal.