18 Jun 2020

Call for Kirikiriroa to be city's dual name along with Hamilton

6:27 pm on 18 June 2020

The direct descendant of the hapū who lived at Kirikiriroa Pā has called for a dual name for Hamilton.

Hamilton CBD at dusk

Kirikiriroa Pā, where the Hamilton CBD now stands, was home for the hapū Ngāti Wairere up until 1864. Photo: 123rf

A former mayor of Hamilton has called for a public referendum on whether to restore the name of the city to Kirikiriroa.

Kirikiriroa Pā, where the Hamilton CBD now stands, was home for the hapū Ngāti Wairere up until 1864.

The land was confiscated by the British Crown in retribution for the Kīngitanga - made up of chiefs from the Waikato area - refusing to swear allegiance to the British Crown.

Wiremu Puke of Ngāti Wairere told Morning Report that the stories of Kirikiroa Pā have been passed down from his kuia, his great-grandmother, who was the last occupant of the pā.

"My kuia, from what I was told, she used to tangi hotuhotu [weep], every time she came to Kirikiriroa Pā. I think there was a petrol bowser outside on the main street at the time, and she'd be in the back of the car, and she'd wail and tangi to the place every time she came into Hamilton.

"So we still feel the effects of it in terms of the land confiscation [and] our rangatahi are now taking up the cause to bring the history of Kirikiriroa alive."

He said Kirikiriroa referred to the soils along the Waikato river that made it perfect for cultivation, and he wanted the name to be reinstated alongside Hamilton.

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Kirikiriroa refers to the rich soils alongside the Waikato river. Photo: 123RF

"It would mean a lot because the name in terms of what it refers to it talks about productivity, it talks about growth, it talks about māra kai, so things that are cultivated," Puke said.

"When you compare that to Captain [John Fane Charles] Hamilton who was a lower class officer who was shot for being a fool by putting his head above the ramparts at Pukehinahina Pā... our city's named after a lower class captain who never came here and got shot for being stupid."

He said that there was a lot of interest online about what Kirikiriroa actually meant, and he was encouraged that a lot of Pākehā under 40 wanted to know more about Māori history.

"Kirikiriroa links us to the past, and Hamilton from that period until now, and in time as people get used to it, maybe there could be a further change further down but it's great that people are questioning history."

The statue of Captain John Fane Charles Hamilton being removed.

The statue of Captain John Hamilton being removed from its site in Hamilton. Photo: RNZ / Andrew McRae

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