Massey racism provokes call for university name change video

Warwick Smith/Stuff

Massey University lecturer Steve Elers is calling for a name-change for his university because he says its namesake, former Prime Minister William Massey, was a racist.

A racially-charged debate is igniting over research that has revealed "white supremacist" comments made by the prime minister Massey University is named after.

Now, almost a century on, a top academic is calling for the university to consider a name change.

The controversial call comes from Massey lecturer and recent PhD scholar Steve Elers, who was startled to uncover blatantly racist comments made by William Ferguson Massey.

William Ferguson Massey was Prime Minister from 1912 to 1925.
Warwick Smith

William Ferguson Massey was Prime Minister from 1912 to 1925.

A farmer and entrepreneur, Massey was prime minister of New Zealand between 1912 and his death in 1925. The then Massey Agricultural College was founded in 1926 and named after him.

Elers of Ngati Kauwhata, said he was surprised to discover Massey's beliefs, during his research into Maori representation in newspapers.

He presented the findings at a talk on the Manawatu campus on Wednesday, challenging the institution to consider the symbolism of using Massey's name.

ONE NEWS NOW

A lecturer has uncovered disturbing comments made by the Prime Minister that Massey is named after.

Some of Massey's quotes presented included: "New Zealanders are probably the purest Anglo-Saxon population in the British Empire. Nature intended New Zealand to be a white man's country, and it must be kept as such"; and, "I am not a lover or admirer of the Chinese race. I should be one of the very first to insist on very drastic legislation to prevent them coming here in any numbers, and I am glad such is not the case."

During Massey's lifetime many people freely expressed views considered unacceptable today, Elers said. However, any justification that his comments were made "a long time ago" and in another context was "irrelevant".

"I definitely think that the past has an influence on today, but we generally don't speak of it, don't read of it, don't hear of it today.

Massey University lecturer Steve Elers highlights the racist views of former prime minister William Ferguson Massey.
Warwick Smith

Massey University lecturer Steve Elers highlights the racist views of former prime minister William Ferguson Massey.

"When I first started reading [Massey's quotes], I was like, 'why haven't I read about these before', and most academics didn't know about it.

Ad Feedback

"For me it's important that it's discussed, rather than just 'racism doesn't exist'. Let's get it out there."

Massey's attitude to Chinese did not sit well, considering the importance of international students to the university now, but the campus was a good environment, he said.

"The university is very good, very diverse. For staff and students it's completely not what William Massey's ideas are."

Elers is in favour of a name change, however, he believes a decision should be made after an open discussion among the wider community.

Massey University spokesman James Gardiner indicated the matter would have to be raised formally with university management before it could be considered.

The university supported academic freedom, but despite Elers' challenge to the institution to act, "we don't form views on the opinions of academics" .

Victoria University head of history, associate professor Jim McAloon, said there should be a "fairly high threshold" for an institutional name change, but the good and bad should be remembered together.

"If we only memorialise the perfect we're not going to have anyone to memorialise. Rather, let us debate the lives and legacies of those who are memorialised and ensure that memorials represent the breadth of our history."

Massey was a "wily tactician". He insisted New Zealand prime ministers be consulted on war policy by the British when it affected our troops, asserted New Zealand's sovereign independence following WWI, and favoured a stable property-owning democracy.

He is also remembered for his aggressive approach to trade union strikers, conscription during WWI, and the "deprivation of civil rights" of thousands of conscientious objectors, he said.

Similar discussions have taken place this year about the name of Rhodes University and a statue of Cecil Rhodes at Cape Town University, because of criticism Rhodes was racist and his actions paved the way for apartheid in South Africa.

Earlier this month, the Washington Post said a dormitory would be renamed at the University of Oregon because its namesake had been a leader in the Ku Klux Klan. In March, it reported Harvard Law had retired its shield emblem because of an association with slavery.

* Comments have now closed.

 - Stuff

Comments

Ad Feedback
special offers
Auckland

Auckland's volcanic risk

Esther Samuels and TK Samuels help Boyd Rolleston who was caught in the toxic gas.

If the 'Shortland St' volcano went off in Auckland today, what would actually happen? We try to find out.

Govt scheme to increase housing

Hundreds of homes are planned for south Auckland under the Government's Crown Land Scheme. (file photo).

People wanting to buy a new house in south Auckland may soon be in luck.

Cop killer found in ceiling

Daniel Luff during his appearance in the High Court, in Palmerston North, for the murder of Feilding policeman Duncan Taylor,

Prison scholar Daniel Luff reportedly found hiding in prison ceiling cavity.

Kids come to league with nothing stuff nation video

Otara Scorpions chairman Willie Maea in front of the club's Verne Wilson mural.

The kids go without food, without love, without money. This rugby league club offers breakfast, sport and a way out of the stereotypes.

Wellington

Saved in the nick of time

Animal welfare inspector Gina Kemp carries Storm out from the ravine.

For three weeks a two-year-old pitbull was trapped at the bottom of a ravine in a park.

$98m boost for rail

Wellington rail commuters are on the receiving end of a Budget boost for the country's rail infrastructure.

Rail commuters on the receiving end of a Budget boost for Hutt, Melling and J'ville lines.

Mall meeting draws hundreds

Plans to redevelop Johnsonville Shopping Centre have been in the pipeline for years, with residents fed up with the slow ...

"What should the beating heart of the northern suburbs is on life support."

Road opponents band together

A Wellington lobby group fears a similar proposal to the controversial Basin flyover could be on the cards.

Lobby group formed amid fears of another central Wellington flyover plan.

Canterbury

Family 'impressed' by Budget video

Melanie and Rod Brown with 3-year-old son Harrison. The new tax thresholds announced in the Budget will mean families ...

Christchurch couple Rod and Mel Brown have a 3-year-old and another on the way.

'Dirty 30' named gallery

The heritage Peterborough Centre is mired in an insurance dispute.

Owners of derelict properties on a list of "dirty 30" in Christchurch could lose them if they do not take action.

Forager finds flavours of NZ

Check and re-check that foraged mushrooms are not poisonous, Peter Langlands says.

Even road-kill rabbit is fair game for dedicated forager Peter Langlands.

Police seek three missing men

Michael Craig McGrath went missing on Sunday evening.

Police issue separate advisories seeking sightings for three missing men in the South Island.

Waikato

Waikato welcomes the Blue Card

Waikato will introduce the Blue Card initiative into rugby from June 3.

Waikato Rugby is the latest union to implement the Blue Card initiative as part of NZ Rugby's programmes to combat concussion.

Fines for calf abuse

Wayne Lyall Henry, 47, and Norman Arthur Baker, 71, were sentenced in the Hamilton District Court on Thursday in ...

One calf was dragged by its hind leg, others were left to die without water or shelter.

Budget reaction mixed

Steven Joyce delivers his first Budget as Finance Minister.

City businesses are happy, but a budget adviser thinks individual gains will be quickly swallowed up.

Contractor considering legal options

The earthworks that cost a South Waikato excavation company $19,000.

Excavation company pinged for breaching the RMA is considering legal options.

Taranaki

The business of beards video

Ngahina Wharehoka won the best beard trim in the Master section of the Barber Craft competition in Auckland last weekend.

There's two types of bearded men - those who can't be bothered shaving and those chasing trends.

Crash victim named

Police have identified the victim of the crash as 52-year-old Cherie Bidois from Waitara.

Police have identified 52-year-old Cherie Bidois, of Waitara, as the sole fatality in a crash in Gore on Friday.

Sport heroes needed

17022017 Sport Photo ANDY JACKSON/Fairfax NZ.    Super rugby, pre season, Hurricanes V Crusaders at Boarder rugby club ...

There are plenty of sportspeople who make the grade but just three will make the Hall of Fame.

Man trap in home

James Misepeka will be sentenced in the New Plymouth District Court in August, after pleading guilty to charges ...

Offender told police it was a 'good day to die' after making threats to burn down the house he was holed up in.

Manawatu

Gorge gouge delays

The gorge is expected to be closed for at least another week while the damage is repaired.

A crumbling retaining wall has pushed back the reopening of the gorge another week.

Man killed in crash

A man was badly hurt in a crash in Palmerston North and died shortly afterwards in hospital.

Witness says driver may have had a heart attack behind the wheel.

Budget a mixed bag

Feilding couple Ian and Katie Burgers, with their two children Liam and Rebecca, see some good things and bad things in ...

Budget 2017 has no major tax shake-up for average Manawatu families.

Cop killer found in ceiling

Daniel Luff during his appearance in the High Court, in Palmerston North, for the murder of Feilding policeman Duncan Taylor,

Daniel Luff, killer of Duncan Taylor, is reportedly found hiding in prison ceiling cavity.

Nelson

Robbery 'guts' Mapua bakery boss

24052017 NEWS PHOTO BRADEN FASTIER
Mapua Village Bakery owner and baker Sean Carley gets back to business so not to ...

Mapua Village Bakery owner Sean Carley is picking up the pieces after a brazen robbery that has left him and his staff shaken.

Player passes away

Waitohi prop Bevan Moody during his final game of club rugby, against  Nelson at Neale Park on Saturday.

Family and friends are mourning for Bevan Moody, who has died after collapsing in a club rugby match.

Store broken into for third time

Garry Higgins of Richmond Roast House and Cafe has been burgled three times since Easter.

The Richmond Roast House and Cafe owner says his store has been broken into three times since the Queen St upgrade.

'Shanty town' fears gallery video

A fire pit, chili bin, rubbish and car seats in the bush at Reilly st.

Old cars, campsites and piles of rubbish left behind at popular freedom camping spot.

Marlborough

Steroids: Not for milk-livered men

Blenheim man Jacob Martin was caught with 20 Nolvadex capsules in his sports bag earlier this month, which landed him in ...

Bodybuilders scared of developing breasts turn to prescription drugs to beat the side-effects. For some, that includes lactating.

Bevan Moody dies

Waitohi prop Bevan Moody during his final game of club rugby, against  Nelson at Neale Park on Saturday.

Family and friends are mourning for Bevan Moody, who has died after collapsing in a club rugby match.

Grape marc's 'complete solution'

Leachate runoff and ponding from grape marc dump sites in Marlborough. (File photo)

This could be a turning point in how the wine industry deals with its waste.

Act of kindness

Carol Reardon with t-shirt her family sent for her birthday.

An off the cuff quirky comment and simple act of kindness has raised more than $20,000.

South Canterbury

Trust lost after salmon released

High Country Salmon assistant farm manager Josh Wyber was devastated to find 6000 salmon had been illegally released ...

Salmon farm ramps up security measures following illegal release of 6000 fish.

Jubilee report released

Jared Reese Husband, 47, of Timaru, was one of three men killed when FV Jubilee sank on October 18, 2015.

Running hose may have led to the deaths of three fishermen, report says.

'Manipulative' woman to blame

The man accused of the manslaughter of Ashburton man Arran Gairns was 'manipulated' by female associate, defence counsel ...

Manslaughter accused was 'manipulated' by mastermind, defence counsel says.

Volunteers rue mower theft video

A $6000 ride on lawn mower was stolen from Te Aitarkihi Trust which runs the Multi Cultural Centre on Bridge Street, ...

Volunteers of Maori Multicultural centre near Timaru hit by theft for a second time.

Southland

Deep south trees go viral

A Catlins macrocarpa stock shelter belt is going viral thanks to US lifestyle website Brightside.me.

A Catlins macrocarpa stock shelter belt is going viral thanks to US lifestyle website Brightside.me. 

Live: The Budget

Labour leader Andrew Little uses a dollar coin to illustrate his point.

Labour leader Andrew Little dismisses Finance Minister Steven Joyce's Budget.

Two chemical spills in Invercargill

Fire crew in full protective gear cleaning up a chemical spill, of polyaluminium chloride, which fell of the back of a ...

Fire crew in full protective gear cleaned up a chemical spill following an earlier spill on the same stretch of road.

SBHS topple rivals

Southland Boys' High halfback Tim Price passes the ball during the interschool game against Otago Boys' High School in ...

Southland Boys' High School works hard in a thrilling win over Otago Boys' High School.

Ad Feedback