This heritage space is on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Kōrero, the national statutory record of heritage places maintained by Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga (HNZPT). It is not owned by HNZPT.
The Queen Victoria Statue (1899) in Auckland’s Albert Park has historical significance as a representation of empire and monarchy in Aotearoa New Zealand. Its reception reflects the historical evolution and complexity of public opinion on these themes and ideas, from veneration to criticism and hostility. As a symbol of the monarchy, nationhood and colonisation, the statue has been the locus of protest as well as veneration. On the 78th anniversary of New Zealand women’s suffrage in 1971, the University of Auckland’s women’s liberation group held a mock funeral procession in Albert Park, ending at the statue which, in the words of activist Sue Kedgley, ‘symbolised the countless Auntie Toms who throughout history tried to sabotage other women’s efforts to achieve equality’. This was a response to Queen Victoria’s famous criticism of women’s suffrage as a ‘mad, wicked folly’. In 1972, in the first public act of the nascent local gay liberation movement, queer activists led by Ngāhuia Te Awekotuku (Te Arawa, Tūhoe), Nigel Baumber and other members of the newly-formed Gay Liberation Front held ‘Gay Day’ at the statue on 11 April 1972. During the inaugural Gay Week (29 May-5 June) they returned to the statue and Te Awekotuku read aloud the group’s manifesto, demanding an end to social and legal discrimination and support for sexual self-determination. Albert Park had long been a popular cruising spot for gay men.