Hundreds sign petition to rename Hamilton streets named after 'assholes' who fought Māori

About 1600 people have signed a petition calling for Hamilton street names honouring "individuals who have committed violent crimes of theft and murder" to be changed.

But very few of them appear to have responded to a recent call from the Hamilton City Council for ideas on how it can enhance its relationship with Māori. 

The petition, started this week on, calls for the renaming of four specific streets - Bryce St in the central city, and Hamilton East's Grey St, Von Tempsky St and Cameron Rd.

"All New Zealanders residing in Kirikiriroa/Hamilton City are affected by the problem of living on streets named after individuals who have committed violent crimes of theft and murder," it reads. 

Bryce St is named after John Bryce, who was Minister of Native Affairs in the late 1800s. According to Te Ara - The Encyclopedia of New Zealand, he was known as "Bryce the Murderer" for his tough stance against Māori. 

Grey St is named after Sir George Grey, an early Governor-General and Premier of New Zealand, who led an invasion of Waikato which saw 1.2 million hectares of land confiscated from local Māori. 

Von Tempsky St is named after Gustavus Ferdinand von Tempsky, a Prussian adventurer who fought against Māori in the 1860s - including in a battle which saw "women bayoneted as they lay wounded", according to the Government's NZ History website. 

Cameron Rd is named for Duncan Cameron, "who led a cowardly assault at Gate Pa and invaded the Waikato" according to the petition organisers, Decolonizing Oppressive Names Everywhere (DONE) Aotearoa/NZ.

"Innocent women, children and elderly were killed senselessly and shamefully... Hamilton City Council have the power to enable removal of these street names immediately - in the same way that Bridge St became Anzac Parade overnight," wrote DONE, who could not be reached for further comment.

In 2015, Bridge St - which connects the suburb of Hamilton East to the CBD, and runs alongside Memorial Park - was renamed Anzac Parade

A spokesperson for Hamilton City Council told Newshub there are no concrete plans at this stage to change any of the street names and it can be "quite a laborious process", but "there has been one request from a business in Von Tempsky St to discuss a name change to that street and some informal discussion".

Last year the council announced a public consultation process on how it could improve its relationship with Māori, Mayor Paula Southgate saying it was time to have "courageous conversations" and "robust discussions" and launching a strategy document, He Pou Manawa Ora - Pillars of Wellbeing.

More than 1000 people made submissions before the March 4 deadline. A search of those for the words 'street name' had nine hits, some of them singling out the same streets mentioned in the petition. 

"Our unique history need not have street names or statues of murderers in Kirikiriroa," one person wrote.

"Get rid of the street names that represent the assholes that killed our (my) ancestors," suggested another. 

Hamilton City Council this week will hear from submitters in person, and will consider possible changes to street names "once the submissions on the strategy are worked through, and the strategy is adopted". 

There have been previous calls for three of the streets - Bryce, Grey and Von Tempsky - to be renamed. In 2019, Taitimu Maipi - who made headlines when he spray-painted a prominent statue of Capt John Hamilton in the city's Civic Square the year before - called for changes. Then-Mayor Andrew King said the council would look into it at a future date. 

The statue was later removed, and remains in storage. 

The council told Newshub there are no plans to change the city's formal name.