Black Lives Matter-inspired demonstrations against symbols of history, in New Zealand and around the world, have focused on monuments to Europeans, but Ngāpuhi leader David Rankin has called on Tainui to take down Turangawaewae Marae, which he said his iwi had long regarded as a symbol of enslavement and oppression.
“For us in the North, Turangawaewae Marae is a symbol of that slavery, murder and cannibalism, and so needs to be pulled down,” he said.
“The wealth that Tainui generated was made on the backs of Ngāpuhi slaves.”
He had the support of his Te Matarahurahu hapū, whose ancestors were among those captured by Tainui, and used as slaves. Sometimes slaves had become part of the communities of their captors, but in this case they were eventually killed and eaten.
“Tainui famously acquired corn by disembowelling my ancestor and removing the kernels in his stomach for seed,” he said.
“Tainui has a moral obligation to pull down that marae, which for us is a symbol of cultural hatred, and if they don’t pull it down, then we will come down and do the job for them.”
This is I guess where you end up once you start pulling down structures that cause some people distress.