29 Sep 2016

Massey racism prompts call for name change

From Jesse Mulligan, 1–4pm, 1:25 pm on 29 September 2016
Massey racism prompts call for name change

Massey racism prompts call for name change Photo: Wikipedia

A Massey University lecturer is calling for the institution to look at changing its name, after research has revealed racist comments made by the former Prime Minister it is named after.

William Ferguson Massey was Prime Minister of New Zealand between 1912 and 1925.

Researcher Steven Elers says that Massey's remarks were not unusual for his time, and in fact were widely-held beliefs, but it is not appropriate for the university to be named after someone who spread a damaging rhetoric in the public sphere.

Two quotes attributed to William Massey include:

"I am not a lover or admirer of the Chinese race. I should be one of the very first to insist on very drastic legislation to prevent them coming here in numbers."

"Nature intended New Zealand to be a white man's country, and it must be kept as such."

William Massey also enacted legislation in 1920 called the Immigration Restriction Act that restricted non-white people from entering New Zealand.

While Elers is calling for a name change, he would like to see a wider discussion around the issue first.

"I’m not saying we have to do it. I’m saying let’s bring it out in the open, let’s acknowledge history, because you look at the Massey University website, the biography of William Ferguson Massey mentions none of this. Let’s bring it out in the open."

Get the new RNZ app

for easy access to all your favourite programmes

Subscribe to Jesse Mulligan, 1–4pm

Podcast (MP3) Oggcast (Vorbis)