Extinction Rebellion Aotearoa vandalises statue outside Parliament to protest colonisation, climate change

Extinction Rebellion Aotearoa is protesting the Government's commemoration of Captain Cook by vandalising Parliamentary grounds.

On Tuesday morning, a statue of Richard Seddon, and a plaque commemorating Captain James Cook were targeted by the group of activists.

James Cook's plaque has been desecrated with a sign reading "Tāhae250", a nod to the Tuia 250 commemoration of Captain Cook's arrival taking place in Gisborne on Tuesday.

A replica of Captain Cook's Endeavour arrived in Poverty Bay at dawn marking the first interaction of Pakeha and Māori 250 years ago.

"In te reo, Tāhae means stolen," political activist Josie Butler told Newshub. 

 "The Endeavour replica, currently sailing around Aotearoa, is only a bitter reminder of colonialism that continues to oppress Māori today."

Butler and other members of Extinction Rebellion then attached a ball and chain to the ankle of the statue of Richard Seddon.

Extinction Rebellion Aotearoa vandalises statue outside Parliament to protest colonisation, climate change
Photo credit: Supplied/ Josie Butler

Seddon served as Prime Minister of New Zealand from 1893 until his death in 1906.

"He was a major player in the Native Land Purchase Acquisition Act, along with the Land for Settlements Act, and described his role with Māori as a 'civilising mission'", said Butler.

As well as the ball and chain, Extinction Rebellion have affixed a sign to the statue which reads "Colonisation = exploitation = climate change."

"Prior to colonisation Māori lived here and the land was pristine. And now 250 years after colonisation we have rivers that are un-swimmable, water that is undrinkable and that is a direct result of colonisation," said Butler.

"We don't want anyone to feel guilty about their history. What we want is for people to recognise what's happened, and move forward with decolonisation together," she told Newshub. 

Butler also let off a flare outside Parliament to "symbolise the class warfare perpetrated by colonisation."

"Extinction Rebellion Aotearoa rejects colonialisation and acknowledges the pain and suffering of tangata whenua."

Butler is known for her activism in 2016, where she threw a dildo at the then economic development minister Steven Joyce and yelled, "that's for raping our sovereignty!"

Members of Extinction Rebellion remained on parliamentary grounds for a short time, before leaving the premises.

"But we're leaving the statue with what we've done to it," said Butler.