Mayoral meeting over controversial statue

12:45 pm on 4 October 2017

Auckland mayor Phil Goff has met descendants of the battle at Rangiāowhia to decide the fate of a statue of the colonialist, Colonel Marmaduke Nixon.

The memorial commemorates Colonel Marmaduke George Nixon, who commanded the Colonial Defence Force Cavalry during the Waikato War.

The memorial commemorates Colonel Marmaduke George Nixon, who commanded the Colonial Defence Force Cavalry during the Waikato War Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Last month, Auckland man Shane Te Pou called for the 150-year-old monument to Colonel Nixon, in Ōtāhuhu, to be taken down and placed in a museum.

In 1864, Colonel Nixon led British troops into the small Māori settlement of Rangiāowhia, near Te Awamutu.

It is said that 12 elderly Māori, women and children were killed, some burnt to death, when a whare or whare karakia was set alight.

Colonel Nixon was also wounded at the battle at Rangiāowhia and later died in Auckland.

Mr Goff, who has now met with descendants of Nixon and Rangiāowhia, was among those who did not know about the monument to Colonel Nixon or the story behind Rangiāowhia.

Discussion around the details of Rangiāowhia and other Waikato battles are fiercely debated by both Pākehā and Māori descendants, but Mr Goff said the controversy has been useful to learn more about the past.

The meeting between the two parties went some way to finding a peaceful solution about what to do with the 13-metre obelisk, he said.

The statue's fate was still undecided but all parties agreed Colonel Nixon's remains, which are buried at the base of the monument, should be considered.

"With Māori respect for wāhi tapu, leave him undisturbed on that site and we will have something else that tells the broader story," Mr Goff said.

The descendants of the battle of Rangiāowhia will meet again after consulting with their whānau.