Maori name mulled for The Cook

The Cook owner Mike McLeod has decided to change the music venue’s name in the wake of a global...
The Cook owner Mike McLeod has decided to change the music venue’s name in the wake of a global movement to remove public statues as a protest against systemic racism. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
Dunedin music venue The Cook could have a new name within a week.

Operator Mike McLeod went from fighting a multinational company to keep the name when he took over the venue to being "very happy" to remove his association with it.

But it is unclear whether the owners of the Captain Cook Hotel building, in which the music venue is located, will follow suit and change its name.

The name began receiving flak in the wake of Black Lives Matter marches and a global movement to remove public statues as a protest against systematic racism.

Mr McLeod wanted to have a conversation with the public about the name, and said he spend a few days getting feedback.

He received a mixed response, but only one response was backed up with good reason, he said.

"I had quite a lot of people telling me not to change the name, but when I started looking at the reasons that people were giving ... I realised most of the people who wanted me to keep the name were just saying, it had always been that."

He said that was not a good enough reason.

"I am comfortable with the decision to remove it."

In a post on the venue’s Facebook page, he outlined his reasoning for the name change, saying Captain Cook was a symbol of colonisation and oppression.

"Because people are hurting, and I did not do this to ostracise and hurt people, I did not want to remind people of oppression and suffering when they came to the venue."

He received some backlash over his decision to change the name from people who said they would no longer come to the venue, but it had not concerned him.

The majority of the negative feedback had been directed to his old restaurant page, which led him to believe they were from people who had never come to his new music venue or realised the downstairs had become a pizza restaurant.

He had a few name ideas and might speak to local iwi about the possibility of using a Maori name, with the hope of having a new name within a week.

In 2018, when Mr McLeod took over the building, he fought the liquidator’s attempts to force him to pay to use the hotel’s name, but yesterday said that was not because he was attached to the specific name.

"[Liquidators] usually try and do things like that to get as much money as they can for the liquidation process ... so I fought for that mostly on principle," he said.

Asked whether the Captain Cook Hotel sign on the outside of the building would remain, co-owner Chris James asked commercial property manager Carolyn McLean to respond. She sent the Otago Daily Times a link to a Wikipedia page on James Cook.

The building has long been a well-known music venue and watering hole for the city’s university students.

It closed in 2013, but reopened as a music venue with Mr McLeod in 2018. Last year, pizza franchise Sal’s took over the lease for the bottom floor.

Mr McLeod continues to operate the live music venue upstairs.


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For 160 years, the name 'Captain Cook' has been absolutely fine with the VAST majority of New Zealanders. And then, because of the actions one one rogue cop in America, it 'has to change'

Sounds more like someone jumping of the 'notice me' bandwagon for free advertising.

The trouble with history is it's far more nuanced than 'European = bad', Maori = Good'. Who we celebrate and who we airbrush from the record shouldn't just be a binary choice. And the reasons behind such a move are more complex still, there are many forces at work in a complex society such as ours.

Te Rauparaha maybe?

Yes this is being milked for publicity big time. In saying that I m softening on the idea. How about Kupe's with in smaller letters formerly the Captain Cook underneath.

Because people are hurting,and I did not do this to ostracise and hurt people, I did not want to remind people of oppression and suffering when they came to the venue. Im rolling with laughter. You fought to keep the Cook its name because of its iconic status as a uni pub when it suited you and now you want to change it only because you dont want to allianate students thru protest or boycott and loose revenue.

Just another publicity-hungry business jumping on the hysteria bandwagon. Not a display of morality.

Lets call it Cull's Inn, in honour of the previous Mayor. 3 Cheers for Cull...... hip hip hooray,.......hip hip hooray.......hip hip hooray the silence is deafening.

How about the Rasta? Bob Marley was born in 1945 to a white middle-class father and a black mother in Jamaica. He left home at 14 years old to pursue a music career in Kingston. This was his first experience of Rastafari, becoming a pupil of local singer and devout Rasta Joe Higgs.

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