NZ First MP Shane Jones has savaged a proposal for a giant statue of Papatūānuku at Bastion Point, saying it is laughable Aucklanders are forking out for the work.
Auckland Council has earmarked $1 million in its budget for the project, but Ngāti Whātua Ōrakei spokesman Ngarimu Blair said the idea was unformed and it was “early days”.
Stuff understands the idea for the statue, or pou, has been under discussion for 18 months by the Ngāti Whātua Ōrakei Reserves Board, which is chaired by the iwi, includes Auckland councillor Desley Simpson and co-manages the Bastion Point land.
But Jones, who is also Regional Economic Development Minister and Associate Finance Minister, ripped into the idea during an interview with Stuff on Monday.
“The notion that the ratepayers of Auckland should foot the costs for this cultural mimicry promoted by the Ōrākei hapū is risible,” Jones said.
If Shane Jones wasn’t Maori himself, he would no doubt be denounced as a racist for opposing ratepayer funding of this statue.
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff had enthusiastically backed the idea of a statue of earth mother Papatuanuku on land above the Waitemata Harbour.
“The pou has the potential to be an iconic symbol of Auckland. It will reflect the unique culture and identity of our city and be enjoyed equally by Maori, the wider community and international visitors to our region,” Goff said.
Councillors had seen a visual concept of the pou, during confidential workshops for the now-completed 10 Year Budget.
Jones said he was “astounded” Auckland Council had “spare change to give to Maoridom’s richest hapū” when the Government was supporting the city council’s ability to raise money through a regional fuel tax.
“The word Papatūānuku means earth goddess, what are they thinking erecting some massive planet? I would say to you, culturally speaking, their thinking is off the planet,” Jones said.
As has been said many times, there is no need for a regional petrol tax if Goff kept his word and found some efficiencies.