March 27, 2013
Kemp statue reveals complex history
A Wellington historian says monuments can reveal complex stories about relations between Māori and Pākeha.
Ewan Morris has been researching debates over symbols in New Zealand such as flags, anthems, place names, memorials and holidays.
He says a great example of mixed messages is the monument in Whanganui's Pakaitore Moutoa Gardens to Te Keepa Te Rangihiwinui, also known as Major Kemp.
Dr Morris says while the monument seems to ignore his later efforts to preserve Māori land ownership in the region, it exists because of the efforts of his sister, Rora Hakaraia and the people of Putiki Pā.
“Although in a lot of respects, it appears to be quite a Pakeha memorial in its form and its messages. There is one panel in Māori which gives a slightly different perspective and also includes his whakapapa, which I think in a way expressing the connection of Te Keepa to that place in Whanganui,” he says.
Ewan Morris says arguments about things like place names such as Mount Taranaki can challenge people's sense of identity, but over time people accept change.
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