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Scarves on Statues – Jean Batten

There is a real paucity of public monuments in New Zealand and the world that commemorate strong female public figures. This is illustrated by looking back through my Sacrves on Statues series. I have gone out of my way to try and get some sort of gender balance but my only choices of real life subjects apart from today’s have been Queen Victoria, whose statues are universally on high plinths where I’d need to hire a crane to reach, and suffragette Kate Shepherd whose bust is in the main foyer of Parliament – I’m brave but not quite that brave. It’s a real symptom of the poor placement of power in our society when there are statues of male politicians for Africa, but nothing much to recognise the many great female figures our country has seen.

A rare exception is Jean Batten’s fine statue at Auckland International Airport. Known around the world as ‘the Greta Garbo of the skies’, Batten broke many records and recorded many firsts as an aviator in the years before World War II. She broke the women’s record for a flight from England to Australia in 1934 and became the first woman to make the return flight. She broke the world record for crossing the Atlantic in 1935 and in 1936 she became the fastest person ever to travel from England to New Zealand.

Batten’s first major aeronautical world record was broken in 1934, she stopped flying in 1938 and she died in 1982 – all years that Italy won the World Cup. Just saying.

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Enzo Giordani

A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.

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