Council backs local iwi to build statue on Bastion Point

By Regan Paranihi

Last week, the Auckland-based iwi Ngāti Whātua Ōrakei took a preliminary proposal to Auckland councilors to build a statue on Bastion Point that could be as big as the Statue of Liberty in the United States or Christ the Redeemer in Brazil.

Councilors had a positive first impression and Mayor Phil Goff has thrown his support behind the proposal.

"I really like the idea of it- something that marks Auckland out as being different from the rest of the world, something that reflects our indigenous culture and identity."

The iwi has proposed a statue of the Māori earth mother, Papatuānuku, on the coastal land of Ōrakei, making it the perfect spot to greet ships as they pass through the Waitematā Harbour.

The council has reserved $100,000 for the development phase and an extra $900,000 for the implementation.

"It would mark the city out, it would be iconic for the city and, I think from the initial conceptual designs, something really exciting could come out of it," says Goff.

Ngāti Whātua Ōrakei Trust Spokesperson, Ngarimu Blair says the idea was being considered from a Māori tourism perspective.

“It's a huge industry- it's one of our biggest sectors and we know in the Auckland region there are few Māori tourism experiences.  We need them, they add to our economy and they tell the story of our country."

Today Bastion Point is known for its history as the site of  some of the country’s most significant protests pertaining to Māori land issues in the 1970s.

Goff said the proposed statue would ideally be ready in time for America's Cup and APEC summit in Auckland in 2021.