NZ statues linked to genocide, racism


An investigation by The Nation has uncovered some unpleasant history behind many of New Zealand's public statues.

Genocide and racism can be linked to some well-known and celebrated colonial figures.

Governor Grey's statue has stood since 1912, only now attracting some closer scrutiny -- is this still a figure to be honoured?

"He did some very, very nasty things. He basically oversaw what some people would call today a genocide," says historian Damon Selesa.

Historians say he has blood on his hands, leading an aggressive attack in Waikato and beginning the Waikato war.

On Auckland's One Tree Hill, the monument erected by John Logan Campbell is dedicated to Maori. But Mr Campbell's intention was that it would memorialise the Maori race, which he believed was dying out.

In south Auckland stands the Marmaduke Nixon statue. As the commander of the colonial Defence Force cavalry, he led a mass killing in Rangiaowhia in 1860.

"There's some evidence that they shot women and children as they came out of burning buildings. It was a terrible atrocity," says historian Jock Phillips.

Public rage against statues has seen them pulled down in many places -- Lenin, Hussein, and there are no statues of Adolf Hitler left in Germany.

The Rhodes Must Fall movement began at Cape Town University, where Cecil Rhodes is no longer a revered figure from history. The mining magnate and politician was a white supremacist, responsible for tens of thousands of deaths.

"We've got to accept that the past is full of what we would regard as evil men, who at the time were not regarded as evil men; they were regarded as heroes," says Mr Phillips.

The question may be what should happen to these New Zealand colonial figures when viewed through the eyes of 21st century morals.