Campaign launched to pull down Parliament's Richard Seddon statue

A campaign has been launched to remove and replace the statue of Richard Seddon from the Parliament lawn, accusing him of being a "notorious autocrat, imperialist and racist".

The figure of 'King Dick' has become increasingly controversial due to his support of the British Empire, opposition to women's suffrage in New Zealand, and anti-Chinese views.

According to The Life and Work of Richard John Seddon, published at the end of Seddon's time in office, he compared the Chinese to monkeys and called them a "nuisance" in other places they'd been allowed to settle.

Off the back of the Black Lives Matter protests in the US, there is growing momentum to bring down statues of people involved in the colonisation and settlement of New Zealand.

On Friday, National MP Judith Collins said if Kiwi activists want to start tearing down statues of homegrown racists, they could start with Richard Seddon.

Now a '#DitchDick' campaign has begun to replace Seddon's statue with another "respected figure", or a carving or sculpture that "represents our bicultural heritage and modern values".

"Dick Seddon was an established and notorious autocrat, imperialist and racist, and his beliefs are totally incompatible with the values of Aotearoa New Zealand as a just and modern nation," the petition reads.

"Seddon actively opposed the enfranchisement of women, supported racist policy against Chinese people, supported widespread confiscations and coercive purchase of Māori land and attempted to invade and annex the Pacific nations of Fiji, Sāmoa and the Cook Islands, succeeding in the latter.

"We call upon the Government to relegate Richard Seddon to the history books and no longer honour him with pride of place in front of the highest legislative body in the nation. Seddon's abhorrent words and deeds have no place in modern New Zealand, and there are many other great Kiwis who deserve the coveted place on Parliament lawn far more than he."

A 2019 protest by Extinction Rebellion Aotearoa also saw the statue of Seddon targeted, with activists attaching a ball and chain to his ankle before affixing a sign reading "Colonisation = exploitation = climate change".