The statue of British naval officer John Hamilton was removed from the New Zealand town after Maoris threatened to tear it down.
Captain Hamilton – who is accused of killing Maori in the 1860s – was classified as "murderous" and "monster" by a Maori elder. He said he would remove the statue himself before the city authorities removed it.
A crane lifted the bronze sculpture from Hamilton's town square as a small group of cheering spectators watched.
Hamilton was a naval commander who fought against indigenous Maori in the 19th century who defended their country against the expansion of British colonial power.
Workers remove a controversial statue of Captain John Fane Charles Hamilton from Civic Square in Hamilton
The Mayor of Hamilton, Paula Southgate, said in a statement that an increasing number of people found the statue (pictured as removed) personally and culturally offensive
Cities around the world are taking steps to remove statues that represent cultural or racial oppression as support for the Black Lives Matter movement increases after police died in Minneapolis last month after George Floyd's death.
Demonstrations have taken place across the UK and there are concerns about monument protection after a statue of slave trader Edward Colston was demolished and dumped in Bristol Harbor.
Hamilton Mayor Paula Southgate said in a statement that an increasing number of people found the statue personally and culturally offensive.
She said, "We cannot ignore what is happening around the world, and neither 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 will help us close those gaps. & # 39;
The Hamilton City Council acknowledged that the removal of the statue was part of an effort to remove monuments that "represent cultural disharmony and oppression" triggered by global protests against racism.
Captain John Fane Charles Hamilton is accused of killing indigenous Maori in the 1860s. Pictured is the statue that is being removed
The statue was donated to the city in 2013, and the Waikato-Tainui (iwi) tribe officially requested removal on Thursday
The city was originally named by Maori Kirikiriroa, but was renamed in the 1860s to Captain Hamilton, a British officer who was killed in the infamous Battle for Gate Pa in the city of Tauranga.
The statue was donated to the city in 2013, and the Waikato-Tainui (iwi) tribe officially requested removal on Thursday.
The city administration said it was clear that the statue would be destroyed after Maori elder Taitimu Maipi informed Stuff that he was planning to demolish it himself this week.
Mr. Maipi said Hamilton was portrayed as a hero when he was "murderous" and "monster".
"How can we accept that he's a hero if he's a monster that waged slaughter," Maipi told the Waikato Times.
The city administration said it currently has no plans to change the city's name.
Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters said removing historical figures is part of a "wave of idiocy" that would prevent future generations from learning from past mistakes.
"Why do some bright New Zealanders feel the need to emulate senseless acts imported from overseas?" said Peters, who heads the populist New Zealand First Party, a coalition partner in Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's government.
"A confident country would never succumb to the symbols of its history, be it good or bad or simply out of fashion."
Ardern has not yet considered the status debate, but last year ordered that studying the conflict between Maori and British colonialists, known as the New Zealand Wars, be made mandatory in all schools.
Waikato-Tainui praised the removal of the statue and said it was discussing with the Hamilton council other problematic colonial names and symbols, including the prospect of restoring the city's original Maori name, Kirikiriroa.
"This was a devastating time for our people, and these injustices of the past should not be a constant reminder when we try to grow our beautiful city and develop it into the future," said iwi chairman Rukumoana Schaafhausen.
Hamilton's council said the fate of the British commander's statue and what, if any, should replace it are still under discussion.
Hamilton is the fourth largest city in the country with 160,000 inhabitants, about a quarter of whom are Maori.
Captain John Fane Charles Hamilton
Captain John Fane Charles Hamilton was born in Cambridgeshire, England on September 28, 1820.
At the age of 15, he joined the Navy on August 28, 1835. He then served on the American continent, in the Crimea and in the 2nd Anglo-Chinese War.
He became a lieutenant on March 8, 1844, and commanded ten years later on November 27, 1854.
In 1863 he was appointed captain of the HMS Esk. The Esk was sent to New Zealand during the New Zealand Wars.
The New Zealand wars were a series of armed conflicts between the colonial government and the Maori, both of which wanted control of the country.
At the height of hostilities in the 1860s, 18,000 British troops, supported by artillery, cavalry and local militia, fought against around 4,000 Maori warriors.
Hamilton died in the Battle of Gate Pa in Tauranga on April 29, 1864. The Tauranga campaign was a six-month armed conflict over land ownership and sovereignty.
Around 2,100 Maori and hundreds of British soldiers were killed in the conflict.
In 1855 he married Laura Parry (1831-1918) in Bicester, Oxfordshire and they had three children together.
The city of Hamilton, founded in 1864 at the end of the Waikato War, was named after him, as was Hamilton Street in Tauranga.
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