Across the United States, statues of Christopher Columbus are being taken down as protesters point to his role in violent colonization at the expense of Indigenous communities.
The conversation around race, history and violence is taking place around the world as well — in New Zealand, a statue of a British naval captain who fought land wars with Maori was removed from public grounds after a formal request by a tribal organization.
The Hamilton City council said they decided to remove the statue of Captain John Charles Fane Hamilton after “it had become clear the status was likely to be vandalized,” said the city publication “Our Hamilton.”
The city was renamed after Captain Hamilton, who was a commander of the Esk and was killed at the Battle of Gate Pa, according to a guide produced by the city council.
“I know many people – in fact a growing number of people – find the statue personally and culturally offensive. We can’t ignore what is happening all over the world and nor should we. At a time when we are trying to build tolerance and understanding between cultures and in the community, I don’t think the statue helps us to bridge those gaps,” said Mayor Paula Southgate, according to “Our Hamilton.”
Some context: New Zealand has its own history of violent colonization by white Europeans.
Recent years have seen increased scrutiny on Captain James Cook, the preeminent British explorer of the Pacific in the eighteenth century, whose arrival opened the way for often brutal imperialism and colonialism.
Activists in New Zealand and Australia have pushed highlight this bloody history; last fall, a Maori tribe banned a replica of Captain James Cook’s ship from docking at its village during a national commemoration of Cook’s first encounter with indigenous New Zealanders.