Ships in a storm
After a passionate debate ranging from colonisation to dual heritage, Gisborne district councillors voted 10 to 3 to install the two newly-constructed Endeavour models on the sites of the previous models if sufficient community funds can be raised.
Councillors, sitting as the operations committee, accepted they were debating a contentious issues and several said they had received significant community feedback from both sides.
Meredith Akuhata-Brown, Tony Robinson and Josh Wharehinga voted against the recommendation to instal the models while Pat Seymour was absent.
Councillor Amber Dunn, who moved the recommendation, said Endeavour was part of the district's navigations history.
“We've just commemorated 250 years of dual heritage and that is what this represents.
“Endeavour is part of our history.”
She had a Pakeha father and a Maori mother. “They represent myself and a lot of people throughout the whole region.”
The Endeavour represented positives and negatives. “We need to recognise both of them.”
Councillor Akuhata-Brown moved the alternative recommendation — to seek further widespread community feedback and to consult specifically with Tairawhiti iwi.
She wanted to discuss “what we learned during Te Ha commemorations”.
“For some of us, it was a PR nightmare.”
Endeavour was a hurtful and contentious issue because the models represented imperialism and colonisation.
Iwi were sick of being told to “get over it”.
The issue was not biculturalism but of understanding the western world and a long period of assimilation.
“We need to get better at courageous conversations. Putting something back (the models) does not help the country go forward.”
Councillor Andy Cranston said the Endeavour was a part of history.
“We need to have balance.”
Issues such as the Te Maro sculpture and Puhi Kai Iti were driven by Maori and he questioned if iwi wanted to be “a major player” on the Endeavour models.
He did not support further consultation. “The grass would grow over our head” but there would still be conflict and further costs would be incurred.
Councillor Robinson said iwi needed to be fully involved in any decision as the models represented the end of Maori life before Pakeha settlement.
Mayor Rehette Stoltz said she was uncomfortable with both recommendations.
“We can do so much better.”
It was a contentious issue. She suggested consultation but with a limited time span.
Councillor Wharehinga said he had been contacted by many people from both sides of the debate.
As an elected official he was always keen to consult. He agreed with the Mayor in supporting consultation with “massive limitations”.
There needed to be a date to end consultations.
Councillor Terry Sheldrake said consultation could leave the council “not in a different place”.
The council had a governance role and he supported installing the models.
Councillor Shannon Dowsing said he had enjoyed the conversation and his position had swayed during it.
The Endeavours were not models but pieces of art. Some people could oppose art constructively and others could appreciate the positive nature of art.
He believed it was right to erect the models as “the talking points they are”, whether such conversations be of a positive or negative nature. The Endeavours were “conversation starters and should be out there”.
Several councillors acknowledged the work of Malcolm MacLean and Martin Kibble in the fundraising campaign to build the models, and those who had made financial donations.
Director of liveable communities Andrew White told councillors that resource consents were no longer required, leaving the funding needed at $29,000, rather than $37,000.
The council has previously provided funding of $19,000, community fundraising raised $20,000 and the council has spent $9000 on engineering advice.
Additional funding is required as the original poles cannot support the 200-kilogram models.
The sites for the models are the Gladstone Road-Derby Street roundabout and the Gladstone Road-Campion Road intersection.
See also today's editorial here.