Statue gone by lunch but noth­ing else

The New Zealand Herald - - News - Nikki Pre­ston

The Hamil­ton City Coun­cil made a quick de­ci­sion to re­move the con­tro­ver­sial Cap­tain Hamil­ton statue but says that won’t hap­pen to other city art­work.

The move has been crit­i­cised by art groups and a Hamil­ton MP who say there should have been a con­ver­sa­tion with the en­tire com­mu­nity be­fore the coun­cil ripped it out.

In­stead the Hamil­ton City Coun­cil’s boss ar­ranged con­trac­tors to ar­rive at Civic Square and pull up the statue within hours of re­ceiv­ing a re­quest from Waikato Tainui.

De­spite Tainui and iwi be­ing in­volved in the orig­i­nal con­sul­ta­tion on the bronze statue seven years ago, Tainui’s email ask­ing the coun­cil to re­move the statue seems to have been the cat­a­lyst for its quick dis­ap­pear­ance at a cost of $3000 to ratepay­ers.

In an email to coun­cil chief ex­ec­u­tive Richard Briggs, sent at 4.59pm on Thurs­day, Waikato Tainui chief ex­ec­u­tive Donna Flavell asked the coun­cil to con­sider the im­me­di­ate re­moval of the statue from Civic Square.

Flavell said she was aware the coun­cil was meet­ing on Fri­day and asked him to put the re­quest to coun­cil­lors then.

She also asked the coun­cil to re­name the city Kirikiriro­a. Hamil­ton, who the city was named af­ter, killed Ma¯ori in the Waikato land war and never set foot in the city, she said.

“Hamil­ton has an op­por­tu­nity to lead the national nar­ra­tive on this is­sue and we en­cour­age the city to be bold as they nav­i­gate their way for­ward,” her email said.

Huntly kauma¯tua Taitimu Maipi had al­ready threat­ened to re­move the statue him­self.

Mayor Paula South­gate said she fol­lowed staff ad­vice on the best course of ac­tion and called elected mem­bers on Thurs­day to tell them.

All agreed it was the best course of ac­tion ex­cept for coun­cil­lors Mar­garet Forsyth and An­gela O’Leary who she could not reach, she said.

Con­trac­tors ar­rived at the site early the next day and the con­tro­ver­sial statue was gone by lunch time.

In a state­ment on Fri­day, Briggs said it was re­moved be­cause it was con­tentious for a num­ber of com­mu­nity mem­bers and be­cause of safety con­cerns.

The $140,000 statue was ap­proved by the coun­cil in 2013 af­ter be­ing do­nated by the Gal­lagher fam­ily. Min­utes of the meet­ing at the time show Tainui and iwi were in­cluded in the con­sul­ta­tion process.

Hamil­ton West MP Tim Macin­doe posted on­line that the coun­cil had set a dan­ger­ous prece­dent. “When a crim­i­nal act is threat­ened, po­lice should be no­ti­fied. If van­dal­ism is in­tended, the tar­get should be pro­tected.”

South­gate said there wasn’t time for a for­mal coun­cil meet­ing be­cause of the threats it would be at­tacked and Fri­day’s meet­ing was “pretty full”.

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