Stories in the land field trip

Detail of bronze relief on Queen Victoria statue showing Māori and European figures signing document
Bronze relief from Queen Victoria statue, Wellington (Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture & Heritage)

Field trips are a fantastic way for students and teachers to develop shared experiences outside of the classroom. This field trip – ‘Stories in the land’ – is run by educator-historian Ricky Prebble and can be adapted for senior and junior students.

Trip details

Contact

Ricky Prebble
Educator–Historian
Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture & Heritage
021 024 31150
[email protected]

Estimated time

2.5 hours, including 30 minute break at Te Aro Park. Please note that the field trip can shortened depending on classroom topics or learning interests.

Starting point

Pukeahu Education Centre

Trip sites

Wellington city map with field trip stops marked by red dots and streams by blue lines.

Purpose

The field trip touches on the multiple relationships that exist between people and place. Broadly, it is about how histories of occupation and power are remembered in the names and landscapes of Te Whanganui-a-Tara/Wellington. Designed to help students make connections between local, national, and international events and people, the purpose of this field trip is to make local history come alive for students through direct engagement with primary sources.

Site information

William Wakefield memorial

Location: Hauwai | Basin Reserve

Round memorial with four pillars visible behind plaque with William Wakefield memorial inscription on red brick wall.

William Wakefield memorial (Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage)

Wakefield Park, Wakefield Street, Wakefield Hospital. You cannot talk about colonisation and Wellington without talking about William and Edward Wakefield, founders of the New Zealand Company. This company connects capitalism and te Tiriti o Waitangi – private enterprise intent on making money for shareholders through buying land cheaply from Māori before selling it on at a profit. The actions of this company had huge impacts – it helped persuade the British to colonise this land, and it brought a wave of Pākehā settlers on board ships whose names – Adelaide, Tory, Oriental – are etched into the landscape.

While today the Basin Reserve is a sportsground, for Māori the Hauwai wetland and Waitangi awa (stream) was a supermarket, a hardware store, a pharmacy. The Waitangi awa still flows underground out into the harbour. There has been immense change to this landscape as people have come and gone, recalling the whakataukī:

Whatungarongaro te tangata, toitū te whenua.

People disappear while the land remains.

Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories curriculum areas: 

  • Tino rangatiratanga me te kāwanatanga | Government and organisation
  • Kōwhiringa ohaoha me te whai oranga | Economic activity 
  • Tūrangawaewae me te kaitiakitanga | Place and environment

Waitangi Stream | Queen Victoria statue

Location: Kent and Cambridge Terrace

View of Wellington city around 1930 with several large chimney's visible releasing smoke.

Wellington's destructor, c.1930 (Alexander Turnbull Library, 1/2-091112; F)

Water from the Waitangi awa flows underneath Cambridge and Kent Terraces. Underneath the imposing bronze statue of Queen Victoria, salt water from the harbour reaches the culverts at high tide. Tuna (eels) continue to swim in these dark hollows, following ancestral coordinates. Sadly, the stream is polluted. Pollution from waste is an historic issue for Wellington. In 1888 an incinerator was built near the present-day Waitangi Park to burn all the city’s rubbish — up to 20,000 tonnes each year. It was called the destructor. From 1939, the city increasingly shifted to using rubbish tips. The destructor was closed in 1946 and the chimneys were later demolished.

Details of bronze reliefs on Queen Victoria statue showing Māori and European figures signing document on one panel and a row of women on another.

Detail from Queen Victoria statue (Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture & Heritage)

Queen Victoria’s statue is another interesting site in this area. She ruled at the height of the British Empire, and her reign was of massive significance for Aotearoa New Zealand. Around the base of the statue are bronze relief images, including an interpretation of the signing of te Tiriti. This artistic impression by Alfred Drury was reproduced in textbooks and on the 1940 centenary 10-shilling banknote. The context of its start in 1901, not long after Victoria’s death, explains its pro-colonial depiction of a stooping Māori, acquiescing to the power and authority of the British. Stern judgement, clasped hands, disembodied heads – this is a unique piece and a fascinating historical resource.

Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories curriculum areas: 

  • Tino rangatiratanga me te kāwanatanga | Government and organisation
  • Tūrangawaewae me te kaitiakitanga | Place and environment

Te Aro Park

Location: Dixon Street

Detail of ceramic tiles with names of Māori iwi inscribed on them.

Ceramic tiles at Te Aro park (Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture & Heritage)

Te Aro Park is one of the largest pieces of public art in the country. The park is next to Taranaki Street, whose name recalls the history of hekenga, the migration of iwi from Taranaki to this area in the 1820s and 1830s. Some of the thousands of handmade ceramic tiles in Te Aro Park bear the names of those who have lit fires in this land. Research by Honiana Love (Te Ātiawa, Taranaki, Ngā Ruahinerangi) and others tells us that Te Aro pā was connected to other pā around the coast, and that it was a large settlement with over 100 tāngata (people) living here at any one time.

'Hidden streams' field trip – Te Akomanga

Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories curriculum areas:

  • Kōwhiringa ohaoha me te whai oranga | Economic activity 
  • Tūrangawaewae me te kaitiakitanga | Place and environment
  • Whakapapa me te whanaungatanga | Culture and identity

Trades Hall

Location: Vivian Street

Room interior with mannequin in corner and various pictures and posters on the walls.

Trades Hall museum (Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture & Heritage)

Built in 1928, Trades Hall on Vivian Street has a fascinating history. It was the site of a shocking bomb explosion which killed the building’s caretaker, Ernie Abbott, in 1984. The attack took place during a time of labour unrest when Prime Minister Robert Muldoon made frequent verbal attacks on the union movement. There is a memorial tree across the road in Ernie’s memory, and a ground-floor museum space pays homage to various groups and individuals and their stories of struggle, including the 1981 Springbok tour.

Trades' Hall bombing today in history, 27 March 1984 – NZHistory

Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories curriculum areas:

  • Tino rangatiratanga me te kāwanatanga | Government and organisation
  • Kōwhiringa ohaoha me te whai oranga | Economic activity 
  • Whakapapa me te whanaungatanga | Culture and identity
  • Tūrangawaewae me te kaitiakitanga | Place and environment

Historic ‘Chinatown’ | Jo Kum Yung memorial

Location: Haining Street

View of Haining Street toward Mt Victoria during the 1900s

View of Haining Street toward Mt Victoria in 2022

Views of Haining Street toward Mt Victoria in the 1900s and in 2022. (Auckland City Libraries & Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture & Heritage)

Haining and Frederick Streets are the site of Wellington’s historic ‘Chinatown’. There is not a lot of evidence left in the built environment to tell us about this community – only three Chinatown buildings remain, all on Frederick Street. But historian Lynette Shum has conducted oral history research to collect the stories of those who once lived here.

The young Chinese men who sailed from Guangdong province to the goldfields of Otago in the 1860s found themselves in a strange new world. This history connects us to culture, economics, and trade. It is also a history that includes discriminatory immigration laws that targeted Chinese people, such as the 'poll tax'.

On Haining Street, a small plaque set into the footpath marks the site Jo Kum Yung was shot and killed here by white supremacist, Lionel Terry, in 1905 – a notorious event that calls attention to issues of racism and white supremacy today.

Chinese peoples – Te Ara The Encyclopedia of New Zealand
Poll tax imposes on Chinese today in history, 5 July 1881 – NZHistory
Racist killing in Wellington's Haining St today in history, 24 September 1905 – NZHistory
Haining Street Oral History Project – National Library of New Zealand

Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories curriculum areas:

  • Whakapapa me te whanaungatanga | Culture and identity
  • Tino rangatiratanga me te kāwanatanga | Government and organisation
  • Tūrangawaewae me te kaitiakitanga | Place and environment
How to cite this page

'Stories in the land field trip', URL: https://nzhistory.govt.nz/te-akomanga/education-at-pukeahu/stories-in-the-land-field-trip, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 21-Dec-2022

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