Captain Cook statue to be relocated

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

Local iwi in Gisborne are welcoming a decision by the Gisborne District Council to remove a statue of Captain Cook from the top of their ancestral mountain Titirangi.

Speaking on behalf of local iwi Ngāti Oneone, Barney Tupara says, “Since long ago the subtribes and tribes have disagreed with this statue being here on our mountain on Titirangi.”

Bird's Eye view of Mt Titirangi showing current statue location - Photo / File

Known as the Cook Plaza, the bicentennial commemorative statue and wall have been opposed by local iwi since its inception in 1969.

“There were some Pākehā who supported the statue being placed here on this mountain, some of the Gisborne District Council also agreed to it,” says Tupara.

The statue has been subject to vandalism in recent years, sparking debate around its standing place on Kaiti. Councillor Meredith Akuhata-Brown says the decision to move it signals a change in attitudes.

“I think that this move of having that statue taken off is again in time with this 2019 sestercentennial our heritage stories being told from both sides, but also truth, which is what we want - we want honest narrative,” says Akuhata-Brown.

Tupara says it will allow a more balanced version of historical narratives to be told in the 250th Cook anniversary commemorations next year.

“To celebrate the Māori history of this area and the ancestors who arrived here before Captain Cook,” says Tupara.

Tupara says [the statue's relocation] will allow a more balanced version of historical narratives to be told - Photo / file

Akuhata-Brown says, “It's the stories, the narrative that we know that we've been wanting to hear for some time the truth and in fact the story of that maunga and the ancestors of it.”

The statue will be relocated to Tairāwhiti Museum.