Iwi want Crook Cook statue rolled in favour of tipuna Rakaiatane

By Talisa Kupenga

Ngāti Oneone is calling for the 'Crook Cook' statue on top of Gisborne's Kaiti Hill to be replaced with that of Māori chief Rakaiatane. Iwi spokesperson Nick Tupara says it is appropriate given the current statue is not actually Captain Cook but an unknown Italian admiral and Rakaiatane was chief at the time of Cook's landing.

According to Tupara the Crook Cook statue needs to go and chief Rakaiatane should stand in its place.

"I certainly would like to see a statue of Rakaiatane up here he deserves to the mountain.

"There are many references to Cook, there are many references to his crew there are many references to his ship but there are insufficient references to the tangata whenua [native people]."

Tupara says his ancestor deserves more recognition than just a street name.

"His name Rakaiatane, it's time for us to allow our young ones to identify with figures that give them a sense of place a sense of mana [pride]."

Tupara says the statute change would coincide well with the sester centennial commemoration of Cook's landing come 2019.

"Cook is down at the cut down at the mouth of the Waikanae there and you can see they can see each other from here and it reminds me on what that view must have been, and although people reference the first day as the coming on-shore of Cook and the killing of our tipuna Te Maro, there must have been an intellectual exchange between the two of them."

The statue has been vandalised three times in the past month, sometimes as soon as the day after being cleaned. Vandals had painted it with a red face, white underwear and a multi-coloured bikini.

Tupara says, “I think it's time we think if this statue is appropriate.”

The Gisborne District Council says it is reviewing the Titirangi Reserve management plan and it did not rule out the possibility of replacing the statue.