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Maori claim to strike at heart of Auckland’s Queen Street

Sunday 25 November 2012

New Maori claim to strike at heart of Auckland’s Queen Street.

One of the biggest commercial buildings in New Zealand – the Phillips Fox Tower in central Auckland – stands on ground that an iwi wants registered as a waahi tapu or sacred site, under the Resource Management Act.

In March 1842, the Ngapuhi chief Maketu was executed on the corner of Queen Street and Victoria Street West. “This was the first Maori executed by the British”, says Ngapuhi leader David Rankin. “He was a rangatira, or chief, and his execution at this spot makes it sacred to Maori – the spot where any rangatira is killed is extremely tapu”.

Mr Rankin will be seeking the support of the Auckland Council’s Maori Statutory Board in his application, to have the location officially designated as a waahi tapu. “This is about the recognition of a site that is of extreme historical importance to Ngapuhi”, says Mr Rankin, “and so we will be expecting the Council’s Maori Statutory Board to back us in our application. We will be contacting them this week”.

Mr Rankin says the implications of the designation of the site as a waahi tapu will not be dramatic. “We will want to talk with the owners and discus ideas for recognising its significance to Ngapuhi – dialogue instead of confrontation is what we want”. Ideas from Ngapuhi so far include a statue, a memorial plaque, and a multi-media display to inform Aucklanders about the history of the location.

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