Sir William Gallagher has been called a massive, massive racist… but what if all the people saying that are wrong?
As the country enjoyed the clement spring weather this past weekend, word broke that manufacturing magnate Sir William Gallagher had addressed a group of Hamilton business people in a somewhat controversial manner.
As well as some sage advice about life and business, his audience also a received a lesson in New Zealand history – namely, that ‘The Treaty of Waitangi’ is actually a fraud and the real treaty, which has been covered up by the government, explicitly gave the British sovereignty over all Māori. Sir William went on to educate attendees on ‘Māori separatism’ and ‘apartheid’ in New Zealand, and warned that non-Māori were at risk of losing their rights.
Since then we’ve seen a barrage of public condemnation decrying Sir William as a ‘deluded oaf’, a ‘boofhead’, a ‘racist idiot’ and a ‘massive shitburger’ (someone else’s words, obviously) circulating crackpot conspiracy theories designed by white supremacists to undermine Māori authority. A bigot of the highest order.
But guys, I think we’ve got it all wrong.
It was right there in front of our faces – the proud Gaelic name, framed by the intricate kowhaiwhai and poutama design. Sir Wiremu Gallagher (as he prefers to be known) is in fact an active Treaty partner and patron of the Māori arts.
But what is the significance of that design? Sir Wiremu is glad you asked.
The design of the Chiefs jersey is based around the Whatanoa gateway standing in the corner of FMG Stadium Waikato.
As I’m sure Sir Wiremu will be aware, the stadium grounds and their surroundings were originally occupied by the rangatira Taiko of Ngāti Te Ao. Whatanoa Pā and its urupā stood on what is now know as Beetham Park. Ngāti Te Ao lost their pā to two Waikato fighting chiefs named Hanui and Hotumauea who killed Taiko in hand-to-hand combat for the pā in the late 1600s. After the pā fell, the decapitated head of Taiko was elevated on a food storage platform, or whata, as a desecration of his mana, therefore removing any tapu or sacredness making it ‘noa’. Hence the name ‘Whatanoa’.
As we imagine Sir Wiremu was telling people just the other day, during the redevelopment of the stadium in 2002 it was decided recognition of Whatanoa Pā be taken into account and commemorated. After much consultation with Ngā Mana Tōpu o Kirikiriroa, the Waikato Stadium Trust, Hamilton City Council and others, it was decided that a waharoa, or gateway, would be erected. The taniwha featured on the waharoa represents the contributing unions of Waikato, Thames Valley, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki, King Country and Counties Manukau – giving life to one of Sir Wiremu’s favourite Waikato/Tainui whakataukī: He piko he taniwha / Waikato of many chiefs.
Sir Wiremu will also have you know that the poutama, or stair motif, on the shirt symbolises a journey upwards in attaining physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing, depicting growth and progress – the aspiration to be the best one can be.
Sir Wiremu would presumably also like to acknowledge the designers, All Blacks kaumatua Luke Crawford (Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Porou) and renowned Māori artist Dave Burke (Ngāi Tahu).
Most importantly, Sir Wiremu will want you to know that it is a shirt in perfect harmony with Treaty principles – Gallagher Manufacturing, a proud beacon of Western industrial excellence, acknowledging the history of Waikato mana whenua, emblazoned across the strong chests of a rōpu of warriors, many of whom whakapapa to the area.
The Chiefs’ ongoing commitment to incorporating tikanga and te reo into their team culture must be a wonderful daily reminder to Sir Wiremu of the thousands and thousands of dollars he’s funnelled into promoting te ao Māori.
Scott Hamilton: Treaty of Waitangi denialism – a long, dark and absurd history
Ātea supports The Aunties – an organisation that provides material needs for Te Rōopu O Te Whānau Te Rangimariē O Tamaki Makaūrau, Womens Refuge, the NZ Prostitutes Collective, The Salvation Army and more. Click here to find out how you can help.
Subscribe to Rec Room a weekly newsletter delivering The Spinoff’s latest videos, podcasts and other recommendations straight to your inbox.