Friday, June 12, 2020

Gone by lunchtime

Earlier in the week, inspired by events in the UK and USA, New Zealand finally started talking about our toxic legacy of racist, colonial monuments. And that conversation has already paid off, with Hamilton City Council removing a statue of Captain John Fane Charles Hamilton. They were told it would be taken down by local iwi this weekend, and so it is literally gone by lunchtime.

Who was Hamilton? A murderer and a thief. He commanded a British ship during the Second Opium War - when Britain used military force to keep China addicted to drugs - and then died at the Battle of Gate Pā in Tauranga, when the colonial government tried to expand its campaign of land theft from the Waikato to the Bay of Plenty. Why would any modern New Zealander want to celebrate and glorify someone like that?

Now it has been taken down, the statue can be put in a museum, with an appropriate historical context. Alternatively, it could just be returned to the local racists who funded it.