There is blood on the hands of many of the people behind Hamilton's historic street and place names, the city council was told as councillors voted to review the names for "cultural appropriateness".

The message of insensitive names was delivered to a full council meeting by two of the HCC unelected Māngai Māori representatives who spoke at the public forum part of the monthly meeting.

The Māngai Māori appointees, representing iwi and mātāwaka, sit on council committees, but not on the full council.

Māngai Māori appointee to the regulatory and hearings committee, James Whetu, said at today's public forum that reviewing the names was a public healing matter for many Māori.

Advertisement
The statue in Civic Square.
The statue in Civic Square.

"If I can be provocative and say there is blood on the hands of many of those names in Hamilton, and it does create a cultural offence to Māori here in Waikato, he said.

The council voted 7-6 for a review, but not before the move met stiff opposition from several councillors. The review proposal comes after Huntly's Taitimu Maipi vandalised the Captain Hamilton statue in Civic Square in August in protest at Hamilton being named after a British captain who killed Māori in the Waikato land wars.

He damaged the nose with a hammer and daubed the statue with red paint.

Mr Maipi was then invited to a public excluded HCC elected members' briefing to discuss his concerns with councillors.

"Recently we have had claims about cultural appropriateness of the naming and recognition of colonial figures in the city," Mr King said. "To better understand the issues raised the council needs to undertake its own work to confirm an accepted view of historical events and if recognition of colonial figures is offensive to Māori."

Mayoral candidate and city councillor James Casson said the council was pandering to an extremist.

"Would anyone else have been arrested for what he has done? Almost certainly," Mr Casson said.

"Both the mayor and Mr Maipi said that after the elected member's briefing you could hear a pin drop. Well it was not because we were amazed at what Mr Maipi had said. It was because the mayor had gagged us from asking any questions."

"We can find offence in most things in life if we go back in history far enough."

"I think this is all a bit arsey-boo," Mr Casson said - repeating a term Mr King used when speaking to the media earlier in the week about another controversial matter.

Photo / File
Photo / File

"Good to see the word arsey-boo has caught on," Mr King said. "I thought it had died."
Councillor Mark Bunting: "Resurrected, more than anything."

Mr Bunting said there was so much on both side of the argument, meaning that this was a hard decision to make.

"I can see the only way about doing this is do what New York did and replace all the names with numbers," Mr Bunting said.

Councillor Garry Mallett said he would not support the motion, and was concerned that the discussion was triggered by a thug.

"I think it is appalling that this guy gained an audience with councillors in which we weren't allowed to speak," Mr Mallett said. "I just don't think there is any need to spend ratepayer money on this."

Mr King said that this was the first step to opening up the conversation.

"This won't go away. It will come back after the elections, in three electoral cycles times, it will come back," Mr King said.

"This is about beginning a conversation in an official way, and turning this into an official process."

"I believe the tide has turned in New Zealand, and the way these things are looked at is in a far more balance way."

Mr King, deputy mayor Martin Gallagher and councillors Paula Southgate, Mark Bunting, Dave Macpherson, Siggi Henry and Angela O'Leary were for the review.

Councillors Ryan Hamilton, Geoff Taylor, Garry Mallett, James Casson, Leo Tooman and Rob Pascoe were against.