14 Sep 2017

The history of NZ statues

From Afternoons with Jesse Mulligan, 2:34 pm on 14 September 2017
Statue of Peter Fraser, whichstands outside the former Government Buildings in Wellington.

Statue of Peter Fraser, whichstands outside the former Government Buildings in Wellington. Photo: Te Ara / Public Domain

An Auckland memorial to the NZ Wars has specifically come under criticism. This follows anger debate in other countries over the removal of memorials or statues with controversial histories.

Beyond the debate of whether to remove these memorials or not, is the question do many people actually know about these memorials?

Grant Morris from Victoria University looks at some of our statues of famous New Zealand historical figures.

Here's Grant's list of statues

Our statues: The politicians
Auckland: George Grey (erected in 1904), John Logan Campbell (erected in 1906),   
Hamilton: Captain Hamilton
Wellington: John Ballance, Peter Fraser, Richard Seddon (1915), Keith Holyoake, Kate Sheppard
Christchurch: John Robert Godley (1867), William Rolleston (1906), James Fitzgerald (1939), William Moorhouse (1885), Kate Sheppard
Whanganui: John Ballance (1898)
Waitara: Maui Pomare (1936)
Hokitika: Richard Seddon (1910)
Queenstown: William Rees
Ashburton: John Grigg
Waimate: Margaret Cruickshank
Wellington and Christchurch win the contest.  You'd expect the capital city to be number one so Christchurch actually has a very impressive statue per head of population rating.

Our statues: The explorers
Edmund Hilary (Auckland, Mt Cook)
Kupe (Wellington)
Jean Batten (Auckland)
James Cook (Christchurch, Gisborne)

Our statues in strife:
George Grey statue (Auckland), Calls for the statue to be removed due to Grey's invasion of the Waikato in 1863
John Ballance statue (Motua Gardens, Whanganui) Had its head knocked off during the 1995 protests due to Ballance Government's purchase of Maori land in the 1890s
Captain Cook (Gisborne), colonial imperialist?  Painted red on numerous occasions due to Cook's role in colonialism.

We got a lot of feedback after this interview from people sharing their favourite and not so favourite statues, including Robert Falcon Scott in Worcester St which is currently being quake repaired and will be unveiled on October 6th, Our Lady of Lourdes in Paraparaumu, Wellington and Pania of the reef in Napier

My favourite statue is of Dr Margaret Cruickshank in Waimate. She was one of NZ’s first woman doctors. She was my mother’s godmother although unfortunately she died soon after her birth in the 1918 flu epidemic. We have some letters Margaret Cruickshank wrote to my mother on her christening.

Not nearly enough statues of women in NZ.




Hi Jesse, a bit of a statue project going on here in Invercargill.  To go with the statue of Bert Munro, of World’s Fastest Indian fame, We’re doing a bronze statue of Alex Lithgow, the man who wrote the popular Invercargill March. 




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