A statue commemorating Captain John Hamilton was pulled down in Hamilton by the City Council on Friday. This was because the local iwi and community believed the statue was culturally offensive. Hamilton was a British leader in the New Zealand land wars and died in the battle of Gate Pa in 1864. This battle also resulted in the death of 80 Maori. John Hamilton apparently, never set foot in the city which was named after him.
This removal of the statue was inspired by the protests for the ‘Black Lives Matter’ (BLM) movement after the death of George Floyd in America. Floyd was killed by police officers when he was arrested for suspicion of committing a minor crime. The tragedy was caught on video and has sparked a worldwide conversation about racism and oppression.
Although these are very complex issues, there is never “another side” to racism. Judging or treating someone differently by the colour of their skin is wrong.Lilli Scott 2020
Although these are very complex issues, there is never “another side” to racism. Judging or treating someone differently by the colour of their skin is wrong. Commemorating historical figures who were racist or culturally offensive may not be appropriate. The process of reconsidering this, like what happened to the statue in Hamilton, is also happening around the world.
Last week, statutes of a slave traders Edward Colston and Robert Milligan were pulled down in the UK by protesters of the BLM movement. Here in New Zealand, other towns have begun to question the place of some of their colonial statues. Many of our streets and places have been named after culturally insensitive figures and too few places inspired by Maori history.
The BLM protests are continuing and more people are discussing what can be done to make things better for minorities. The removal in the statue of John Hamilton is hugely significant. It has sparked a larger debate about if anything should be done about the colonial names and influence in our country.
Have you been following the protests and removal of statutes in the media?
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