'Wake up to the Wakefield violence' - peaceful protestor

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

Statues of Edward and William Wakefield have been blindfolded with red scarves in a peaceful protest in Te Whanganui-a-Tara.

The William Wakefield memorial at the Basin Reserve, the busts of Edward Gibbon Wakefield and the Duke of Wellington at Mt Victoria, and the statue of Queen Victoria on Kent and Cambridge terraces were all decorated with red scarves.

Edward and William Wakefield have historically been honoured by Pākehā as the founding citizens of Wellington (Te Whanganui-a-Tara), and whose leadership played a significant role in establishing colonial New Zealand.

The story of the Wakefield brothers is, however, acknowledged as also dishonorable. Both men were arrested for kidnapping 15-year-old Ellen Turner and forcing her to marry Edward in England, before turning their attention to Aotearoa.

The Wakefields are acknowledged as having intentionally swindled Māori of their land as well as falsely onselling land to Pākehā colonists.

The peaceful protest follows similar actions nationally and internationally that has been reignited by the Black Lives Matter movement in America. 

The group behind the peaceful protest has chosen to remain anonymous. One member is encouraging Aotearoa to, "wake up to the Wakefield violence."