In the shadow of Savage

Written By: - Date published: 8:33 am, December 26th, 2013 - 17 comments
Categories: activism, democratic participation, labour, Maori Issues, Unions, welfare, workers' rights - Tags: , ,

The 25th of December is a good day for traveling around Auckland and visiting a historic site or 2. Yesterday I went to the Michael Joseph Savage Memorial on Auckland’s waterfront, next to Bastion Point.  So much political history in one small area!

Like Richard Seddon and William Massey, Prime Minister Michael Joseph Savage died in office (in March 1940). Like Massey, Savage was buried in a gun bunker originally built for the 1885 Russian scare. It was decided to erect a memorial above his grave at Bastion Point, Auckland. A competition was held and was won by two Auckland architects, Tibor Donner and Anthony Bartlett. The design had a garden, a reflecting pool and the statue of a worker. The pool and garden were built, but the worker was seen as too divisive a symbol.

Instead, sculptor Richard Gross provided a design for a tall obelisk. On the side facing the pool was a figure symbolic of love and justice, while facing the sea was a portrait of Savage surrounded by flowers. Above were the words ‘He loved his fellow men’, and, below, ‘There is no fame to rise above the crowning honour of a people’s love.’

[Sigh] Too divisive a symbol, eh? It’s a beautiful site. I wonder how much of the history of the area Kiwi and overseas visitors are aware of. At the main entrance of the memorial park is a sign with a very abbreviated history.  The side facing Mission Bay: IMG_0167 The print says:

In 1860, 1879 and 1880 Ngati Whatua leaders Tuhaere and Te Kawau assembled many North island chiefs to the Kohimaramara Conference to establish a Maori Parliament.  They sough redress on land issues and equality under the law.  In the 1930s Maori sought remedy through Michael Savage, the then Prime Minister, of the Labour Government. With Maori support Labour had entered parliament for the first time beginning a long standing relationship.

The side facing the city: IMG_0165 The print under Savage’s picture says,

An embankment carries Tamaki Drive past the base of Resolution Point and across Hobson Bay.  On the east side is Okahu Bay, the site of a Ngati Whatua village until the 1950’s. The road skirts a headland known as Bastion Point, the end of which is now occupied by the Tamaki Yacht Club.  On the other side of the road once stood Fort Bastion, built during the “Russian Scare:” of the 1880s. Gun emplacements here once guarded the entrance to the Waitemata Harbour, as did other fortifications on Mt. Victoria and North head at Devonport on the North Shore.

Bastion Point was named after (the) Bastion Rock, a distinctive fort-like outcrop which stood offshore here until the 1920’s, when it was demolished during the formation of Tamaki Drive.  This is now the site of the memorial to Michael Joseph savage (1872-1940), this country’s first Labour Prime Minister, remembered by a tall obelisk, sunken pool and gardens.

The memorial: IMG_0187 The other side has an image of Savage. MJ Savage Memorial_2

To the right of the memorial, in the background is Ōrākei Marae.

MJ Savage Memorial_Marae_3 Ōrākei Marae: Bastion Point Marae_1 The Waka Maori site gives some history of the Marae:

Ngāti Whātua history in Tāmaki Makaurau began in the 17th century when Te Taoū, a hapū of Ngāti Whātua led principally by Tuperiri, successfully campaigned against the area’s incumbent proprietors, Waiohua.

However, within five years of signing the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, the thousands of acres previously occupied by Ngāti Whātua had been reduced to only 700 acres at Ōrākei.

As a result of Government policy, decades of displacement and loss followed for hapū members who were evicted from their homes and marae buildings burnt.

However, an announcement in 1976 by the National Party, led by Prime Minister Robert Muldoon, that uncommitted land at Bastion Point would be taken for high income housing and parks marked a turning point in the country’s history when some Ngāti Whātua occupied Bastion Point in January 1977.

The following 506 days of non-violent occupation and protest ended on 25 May 1978 when 222 protesters were arrested and the temporary meeting house, buildings, and gardens they had established were demolished.

However, subsequent demands for the return of Ngāti Whātua land was the catalyst for the formation of the current Waitangi Tribunal, as well as Treaty settlements for iwi throughout New Zealand.

In 1991 the marae was returned to Ngāti Whātua o Ōrākei, which now controls a property asset base worth in the range of $400 million, with only $3 million derived from Treaty settlement.

Bastion Point protest 1978

Bastion Point protest 1978:  New Zealand history online/Nga korero a ipurangi o Aotearoa

An excellent vegetable garden initiative on Ōrākei Marae was included in a 3 News report last night.

On 25 December 2013, a handful of people were protesting near the entrance to the Michael Joseph Savage Memorial Park. Bastion Point falun gong protest There were also placards in the car park. The banners/placards were in Chinese.  I guess they were targeting international tourists. The English language pamphlet I was given explained the protest.  It had the url for this website.  And this one about organ harvesting: the main focus of the pamphlet.

So much political history in one site – as well as being a tourist site for its gardens and harbour views.  And that really adds up to a very strange mix. I’m glad Savage’s name is kept alive in the landscape.  I’m sorry the statue of a  worker was not included.

Remember the Savage Labour government and what it achieved!

Remember Bastion Point and the public face of brutal government repression!

And remember that once the Labour Party had the strong support of Maori.

MJ Savage Memorial_Marae_4

17 comments on “In the shadow of Savage”

  1. One Anonymous Knucklehead 1

    The National Party has responded to the protest:

    “No matter what rent-a-mob have to say, this year’s organ harvest has been a particularly good one.
    Why can’t you celebrate some positive news for once?”

  2. RedLogix 2

    A timely reminder karol. In one post two strong connections to our whakapapa – MJS and Orakei.

  3. Tiger Mountain 3

    Amazing National has not flattened the MJ Savage site for a mansion development or NSA receiver.

    One thing is for sure; the current National Prime Minister will never have such a beautiful memorial accorded at such a significant site. Michael Joseph Savage was a “dear leader” in the truest sense.

    In the 70s “Mickey Sav” car park after dark was a very popular place for young people to “get together” for social interaction in their old American V8s. These days it is gated between sunset and sunrise and fair enough too, it should be kept in pristine condition.

  4. tricledrown 4

    Key will erect his own memorial in Hawaii.
    Key NewZealands greatest beneficiary of Michael Joseph Savage.Keys Epitaph.
    I Took advantage of everything
    MJS’s Labour govt offered
    Free housing
    Mums widows benefit
    Free education
    Free heathcare
    Etc.
    I used all these advantages
    Then turned my back on the people who paid my way ripped everybody off I could then sold NZ down the Drain.

  5. Pete 5

    Here’s a booklet published early in 1937 detailing Labour’s achievements in its first year in office. An impressive set of accomplishments.

    • Macro 5.1

      And excellent read! All actions could well be repeated by a new Left Government with similar results – its not rocket science. The summary on pp 46-47 is telling.

  6. tracey 6

    from a time when many had nothing and community was everything … community is now nothing and peolle ecpect everything… in wouth auckland it is sgill mickey savage time.

    • karol 6.1

      Yesterday in a public space in West Auckland, I saw a group of varying ages (possibly just one whanau) playing volleyball. Just a ball, and an engaged group and it looked like loads of fun.

      • Tiger Mountain 6.1.1

        There are many reserves and public spaces out West, some hidden treasures.

        Across the road is Northall Reserve near Fruitvale school with an upper sports field and lower field with native plantings, which was instituted according to signage to celebrate all the babies born in Waitakere council area! Every night of the week there are informal touch games, cricket and people just having evening picnics there. An oasis in the city though a quiet neighbourhood really.

        And for off leash dog lovers there is expansive Craig Avon Park in Blockhouse Bay off Kinross and Connaught Sts and KakaMatua inlet on the way to Huia. Cars needed for this one unless you live there.

  7. adam 7

    I always thought a good measure of a government would be the fact that it put up the statue that was originally intended for the site. Odd for nearly 100 years that has not happened – indeed we have two labour governments that many of the original labour party members would have thought were scum.

    I know the labour party has always had it’s moderates, indeed, Micky Savage was one of them. But I’d rather have his type of moderate, than that of many inside the labour party caucus who say they are moderates, and are really neo-liberal hacks.

    Nicely done Karol, it is such a wonderful site and your pictures are great. They do it no justice for the place really, – people should go and get a feel for it . Indeed for you who live outside Auckland it is a must visit site when here. Personally, I will always love Ngāti Whātua for offering this memorial site to the nation.

  8. tracey 8

    karol. same at cornwall park. when you have no money you see the value of the simple things. family and fun.

    interestingly the demographic at cornwall park bbqs and grass areas is strongly pacific and asia. i note they are building a cafe by the band rotunda. a shame in many ways.

  9. tricledrown 9

    Karol family is the best thing anyone can have .
    Research shows those with supportive families are the happiest and healthiest.
    Research also shows that money can only buy so much happines ‘Once your income passes $75,000 dollars their is only a 1 to 3% increase in happiness.
    So happy holidays to all here at the standard.

  10. tracey 10

    some of the wealthiest people i know are the ones who complain about how much tax they pay

  11. philj 11

    xox.
    Some of the wealthy folks I know don’t pay any tax. Roll on for a change of government and, hopefully, a major change in our countries policy direction. I won’t hold my breath. People need hope and if South Auckland don’t vote en mass, then we deserve all we get. (or don’t get). MSM/NZ Inc. SKY, Fletchers, Downers etc, will start trumpeting how well NZ is doing, and lead to the feel good “all is well” in Aotearoa. David Cunliffe, please don’t become NZ’s Obama. Bold policy is needed and get your Neo Cons on board or get rid of them.

    • Will@Welly 11.1

      We need to have a serious look at our tax laws. Family trusts and so forth, and Peter Dunne’s “legitimate” tax avoidance rules need completely overhauling.
      We’ve seen those at the bottom end of society end up penalized for minor misdemeanors, while those who have the means and the where-with-all, get away with $$$millions.

    • Francis 11.2

      “Some of the wealthy folks I know don’t pay any tax.”

      Yet they still complain about the tax they don’t pay…

  12. … the worker was seen as too divisive a symbol.

    Bangs head on desk…

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Kids bear the brunt of Budget
    Future generations are the ones bearing the brunt of National’s failure to provide education services the funding they need to make ends meet, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “For nine years in a row the Government has told our ...
    39 mins ago
  • The real costs of National’s election bribe
    The cost of National’s poorly-targeted election year budget bribe is that there’s nothing to fix the housing crisis, health funding is cut, and funding for schools is cut, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “As the dust begins to settle ...
    2 hours ago
  • Health running on empty
    Get ready for more cuts to health at a local level, affecting all New Zealanders, after a Budget that failed to deliver even enough for health services to stand still, says Labour’s Health spokesperson David Clark. “District Health Boards this ...
    3 hours ago
  • Nats’ budget a double-crewed ambulance parked at the bottom of the cliff
    National’s election year Budget shows that there’s no coincidence Finance Minister Steven Joyce doubles as National’s campaign manager, says Labour’s Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson. “The 2017 Budget reveals a lack of vision, and is simply an election year budget with ...
    19 hours ago
  • After nine years, it’s the One Dollar Bill Budget
    National’s Budget 2017 is an irresponsible election bribe which after nine years exposes a government that’s run out of energy and ideas to tackle the big issues facing New Zealand,” says Labour Leader Andrew Little. “This is simply cynical electioneering ...
    23 hours ago
  • Alfred Ngaro might be sorry – but to whom?
    The fact that the number of people classified as homeless on the Social Housing Register has doubled over the past year alone should be the real reason for Alfred Ngaro’s recent apologies, says Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni. “As ...
    2 days ago
  • Government’s data-for-funding backdown embarrassing
    The Government’s U-turn on their shambolic attempt to collect private client data from social services is an embarrassment for a senior Minister, says Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni. “After months of criticism and mismanagement, the Government has finally cut ...
    2 days ago
  • Overloaded hospitals reach crisis point
      The country’s hospitals have reached breaking point with some hospitals discharging patients to free up bed space and patients with serious injuries having to wait hours to be seen by a doctor, says Labour’s Health spokesperson David Clark.   ...
    2 days ago
  • National fails on critical school building needs
    Students are paying the price of the Government’s failure to invest fast enough in school buildings to keep pace with Auckland’s increasing population, says Labour Leader Andrew Little. “Parents should lay the blame for their children having to put up ...
    2 days ago
  • Tipping culture is not welcome in NZ
    Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett’s comments about tipping have been in the news and have sparked off a series of furious discussions about tipping in Aotearoa. From our point of view, tipping every time you’re provided a service is a ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche
    3 days ago
  • Mental Health a huge cost for Police
      The cost of dealing with mental health incidents for our police was a staggering $36.7 million which shows just why we need Labour’s fresh approach on Mental Health, says the Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little.   “Police now ...
    3 days ago
  • Grant Robertson: Speech to Otago-Southland Employers Association
    Thanks to the Otago Southland Employers Association and Virginia for hosting me this evening.  It is always a pleasure to come back to the city and region that shaped who I am as a person. I believe that growing up ...
    4 days ago
  • Renting a home in the Wild West
    It can be tough renting a place to live, and it could be about to get tougher. Radio NZ is reporting that the American Rentberry app wants to start operating in New Zealand. Rentberry allows landlords to play perspective tenants ...
    GreensBy Metiria Turei
    4 days ago
  • Free West Papua leader in Aotearoa
    Last week I hosted Free West Papua leader Benny Wenda at Parliament and travelled with him to a number of important events. Benny is spokesperson for the United Liberation Movement for West Papua and lives in exile in England. 14 ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    6 days ago
  • Nats unprepared for record immigration
    National’s under-investment in housing, public services, and infrastructure means New Zealand is literally running out of beds for the record number of new migrants, says Labour’s Immigration spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway. ...
    1 week ago
  • Labour opposes Ports of Auckland sale
    Labour would strongly oppose the sell-off of the Ports of Auckland to fix a short term cash crisis caused by the Government blocking the city’s requests for new ways to fund infrastructure, says Labour’s Auckland Issues spokesperson Phil Twyford. “National ...
    1 week ago
  • Workers pay the price of Silver Fern’s Fairton closure
    The threatened closure of Silver Fern Farms’ Fairton Plant in Ashburton raises serious questions about the Government’s support of the sale of half of the company to a foreign company, when it appears this outcome may have been inevitable, says ...
    1 week ago
  • National’s answer to the housing crisis: One new affordable house per 100 new Aucklanders
    National’s fudge of a housing plan will make Auckland even more of a speculators’ paradise, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. ...
    1 week ago
  • Government can’t be trusted with private data
    The independent review of the Ministry of Social Development’s data breach in April has shown, once again, that the Ministry cannot be trusted with private client information, says Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni. “The investigation by former Deloitte chairman ...
    1 week ago
  • Another crisis, another half-baked National plan
    The National Party may have finally woken up to the teacher supply crisis facing our schools but their latest half-baked, rushed announcement falls well short of the mark in terms of what’s required, says Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins. ...
    1 week ago
  • Nats: Don’t bite the hand that feeds you
    Alfred Ngaro’s recent comments have exposed the Government’s ‘don’t bite the hand that feeds you’ approach, says Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni. ...
    1 week ago
  • Breaking news – National admits there’s a housing crisis
    National finally admits there’s a housing crisis, but today’s belated announcement is simply not a credible response to the problem it’s been in denial about for so long, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. “National can’t now credibly claim ...
    1 week ago
  • Nats lay the ground for housing bust
    Goldman Sachs’ warning that New Zealand has the developed world’s most over-priced housing market, with a 40 per cent chance of a bust within two years, shows the consequences of National’s nine years of housing neglect, says Labour Housing spokesperson ...
    1 week ago
  • Well they would say that, wouldn’t they?
    Property investors’ lobby groups have been up in arms this week about Labour and Green parties’ plans to close tax loopholes and fix the housing market. That’s probably a good thing. Like an investor in any other sector, they expect ...
    GreensBy James Shaw
    1 week ago
  • Alfred Ngaro reflects National’s culture of silencing debate
    Image from Getty Images Community groups must be free to advocate for the people they serve. It’s these people who see first-hand if ideas dreamt up in Wellington actually work on the ground. It’s essential that they can speak freely ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    1 week ago
  • Bill English must reassure community organisations
    The Prime Minister must do more to reassure community organisations after Cabinet Minister Alfred Ngaro's apparent threats to their funding if they criticise government policy which has left a born-to-rule perception amongst many, says Labour Leader Andrew Little. “Alfred Ngaro ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Extremism and its discontents
    Another scar on global democracy appeared recently, this time in Germany.It seems that the number of soldiers on duty with extremist political leanings has become a concern to the military leadership in that country. Soldiers were found openly possessing ...
    GreensBy Kennedy Graham
    2 weeks ago
  • Government’s suicide approach disappoints
    Mike King’s sudden departure from the Government’s suicide prevention panel, amid claims the Government’s approach is ‘deeply flawed’, is further evidence National is failing on mental health, says Labour’s Deputy Leader Jacinda Ardern. “Mental health is reaching crisis point in ...
    2 weeks ago
  • National backs speculators, fails first home buyers
    National is showing its true colours and backing speculators who are driving first home buyers out of the market, says Labour Leader Andrew Little. “By defending a $150m a year hand-out to property speculators, Bill English is turning his back ...
    2 weeks ago
  • More oversight by Children’s Commissioner needed
    More funding and more independence is required for the Children’s Commissioner to function more effectively in the best interests of Kiwi kids in State care, says Labour’s spokesperson for children Jacinda Ardern. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour to end tax breaks for speculators; invest in warm, healthy homes
    Labour will shut down tax breaks for speculators and use the savings to help make 600,000 homes warmer and healthier over the next ten years, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. “It’s time for fresh thinking to tackle the ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Health of young people a priority for Labour
    Labour will ensure all young people have access to a range of health care services on-site at their local secondary school, says Labour’s deputy leader Jacinda Ardern. “Our policy will see School Based Health Services extended to all public secondary ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Ratifying the TPPA makes no sense
    The recent high-fiving between the government and agricultural exporters over ratification of the TPPA (Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement) is empty gesture politics in an election year. Ratification by New Zealand means nothing. New Zealand law changes are not implemented unless the ...
    GreensBy Barry Coates
    2 weeks ago
  • NIWA report proves National’s trickery re swimmable rivers
    National have a slacker standard for swimmable rivers than was the case prior to their recent so-called Clean Water amendment to the National Policy Statement (NPS), says Labour’s Water spokesperson David Parker. “The table 11 on page 25 of the ...
    2 weeks ago
  • MPS shows new approach needed on housing
    The Reserve Bank’s latest Monetary Policy Statement provides further evidence that only a change in government will start to fix the housing crisis, says Labour Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “It is more evident than ever that only a Labour-led government ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Fresh approach on mental health
    Labour will introduce a pilot scheme of specialist mental health teams across the country in government to ensure swifter and more effective treatment for those who need urgent help, says Labour’s Leader Andrew Little. “Mental health is in crisis. It ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Sallies back Labour’s plan for affordable homes
    The country’s most respected social agency has endorsed Labour’s KiwiBuild plan to build homes that families can afford to buy, and delivered a withering assessment of the National Government’s housing record, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Education is for everyone, not just the elite
    Proposals by the National Party to ration access to higher education will once again make it a privilege only available to the elite, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “Speaking at the Education Select Committee, Maurice Williamson let the National ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Cancer support changes far too little, certainly late
    Anne Tolley’s belated backtrack to finally allow Jobseeker clients suffering from cancer to submit only one medical certificate to prove their illness fails to adequately provide temporary support for people too sick to work, says Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Kids must come first in enrolment debate
    The best interests of children should be the major driver of any change to policies around initial school enrolments, not cost cutting or administrative simplicity, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says.   “The introduction of school cohort entry is ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Feed the Kids
    While in Whangarei last week, I had the pleasure of meeting Buddhi Manta from the Hare Krishna movement whose cafe is making lunch for some schools in Whangarei. His group have been feeding up to 1,000 primary school kids at local ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    3 weeks ago
  • DHBs’ big budget blowout
    New Zealand’s District Health Boards are now facing a budget deficit of nearly $90 million dollars, a significant blowout on what was forecast, says Labour’s Health spokesperson David Clark.   Labour believes health funding must grow to avoid further cuts ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Govt plays catch up on drug funding
    The Government's backdown on Pharmac is welcomed because previous rhetoric around the agency being adequately funded was just nonsense, says Labour's Health spokesperson David Clark. ...
    3 weeks ago