21 Jul 2009

Wood linked to Heke flagpole cut from auction

7:38 pm on 21 July 2009

A contentious piece of wood believed to be a remnant of the flagpole cut down by Maori activist Hone Heke has been withdrawn from sale.

Dunbar Sloane Limited first listed the item in March and has since withdrawn, re-entered and withdrawn it again due to questions surrounding its authenticity.

Ngapuhi chief Hone Heke famously chopped down the British flagpole at Russell in the Bay of Islands four times in the 1840s in protest at the way Maori were being treated.

The piece of wood, valued at $20,000, is said to be a remnant of the flagpole and was to be auctioned by Dunbar Sloane in August.

Earlier this week Ngapuhi activist David Rankin, a great-great nephew of Hone Heke, complained to the Human Rights Commission about the sale, saying it was offensive to use the name of his ancestor for commercial gain.

Mr Rankin is pleased the auction will not go ahead.

Dunbar Sloane Jnr says the auction house can no longer compete with Maori opposition to the sale and the piece will be sent back to the English vendor.

Mr Sloane believes it is a loss for New Zealand.