15 Apr 2009

Relic to be sold despite debate over provenance

9:50 am on 15 April 2009

The auction house Dunbar Sloane plans to go ahead with the sale of a what is said to be a remnant of the flagpole cut down by the Maori activist Hone Heke.

The piece of wood was withdrawn from an auction this month following a dispute between the auctioneers and Northland Maori who opposed its sale.

It was initially thought the flagpole was made from wood grown on Hone Heke's land, however after examination the piece was found to be Baltic Pine, which is not native to New Zealand.

The auction house's manager, Dunbar Sloane Jr, says the item is still likely to be from the flagpole and will be sold in July.

Another item said to be made from the flagpole, a walking stick, will be sold at the same time.

Mr Sloane says the piece was accompanied by a letter stating there were US whaling ships in Russell at the time the flagpole was cut down. It says the New Zealand government of the day bought a spar from the ship and erected it as the flagpole.