Vandalising statue ’doesn’t help the cause’

The war memorial on the corner of Symonds Street and City Road in Auckland. - Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

A memorial to colonial troops and "Friendly Maoris" from the New Zealand Wars has been vandalised in central Auckland overnight as part of a political protest.

The statue of a bare-breasted female figure laying a fern frond at a monument to the colonial troops who died in the New Zealand Wars has had a plastic axe glued to her head.

A piece of paper was also glued to the monument which reads "Fascism and White Supremacy are not Welcome Here".

Auckland Council arts and culture manager Richard McWha said a specialised contractor was sent to the memorial to assess the damage but it appeared to be superficial.

He said while heritage memorials were sometimes uncomfortable and inflammatory, they were examples of colonial perspectives that were part of Auckland's history.

"The fact that we're offended by it or think: 'gosh, that's a bit on the nose', or 'that's only one perspective', that's actually a really healthy thing for our society because it shows how far we've come."

He said discussion was preferred to acts of violence and vandalism which ultimately ended up costing ratepayers.

'With every violent action, there is a violent reaction'

Auckland man Shane Te Pou, who has called for another monument to colonial forces in the New Zealand wars to be moved, said this attack on the memorial was an act of vandalism.

"And, in fact, I think it doesn't help the cause, it hinders it because with every violent action, there is a violent reaction. It will play into people's hands who are against the realignment or re-discussion about New Zealand history and I find it totally abhorrent."

Asked if the vandalism could be seen as raising awareness about New Zealand's history, Mr Te Pou said the way to do that was through rational debate and discussion - not violence.

Mr Te Pou has called for the South Auckland monument commemorating Colonel Marmaduke Nixon to be taken down and moved to a museum.

Nixon led colonial troops into Rangiaōwhia where a dozen people were killed in 1864.

Descendants of Nixon and Rangiaōwhia met with mayor Phil Goff but a decision on the future of the memorial has yet to be announced.

He said some streets names and monuments do need to be changed and he saw that for himself on a recent trip to the United States.

"You know, a main street in Alabama is now named after Martin Luther King [Junior].

"If it's good enough for reactionary Alabama, surely we're better than that in modern day Aotearoa."

The group who have accepted responsibility for the attack have not replied to RNZ's requests for an interview.

However they issued a statement which said the Zealandia war memorial was an ode to violent and brutal occupation and celebrates the ongoing colonisation of Aotearoa.

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