The New Zealand Herald

Statue gone by lunch but nothing else

- 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”.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand