Captain Cook Statue Will Be Taken Down From New Zealand Hill After Local Maoris Dub Him a Murderer
- A statue of explorer Captain James Cook was erected in New Zealand in 1969
- But it has been vandalized by the Maori community who disagreed with it
- Gisborne council has voted unanimously to move the statue to please tribe
A statue of Captain James Cook in New Zealand will be taken down after it was vandalized by the Maori community who disagreed with it.
Locals in Gisborne, on the North Island, have been daubing the statue in paint or stealing its sword since it was erected in 1969 without consultation.
But with the 250th anniversary of Cook’s landing approaching next year, Gisborne council has voted unanimously to move the statue to please the Ngati Oneone tribe, which says its ancestors arrived long before the British explorer landed and have labelled him a ‘murderer’.
Captain James Cook: The man who went ‘farther than any man has been before me’
Captain James Cook was a British explorer, navigator, cartographer, and captain in the Royal Navy.
Cook made detailed maps of Newfoundland prior to making three voyages to the Pacific Ocean, during which he achieved the first recorded European contact with the eastern coastline of Australia and the Hawaiian Islands, and the first recorded circumnavigation of New Zealand.
Cook joined the British merchant navy as a teenager and joined the Royal Navy in 1755.
He fought in the Seven Years’ War and later surveyed and mapped much of the entrance to the Saint Lawrence River during the siege of Quebec.
In 1766 he was commissioned as commander of HMS Endeavour for the first of three Pacific voyages.
Cook was attacked and killed in 1779 during his third exploratory voyage in the Pacific while attempting to kidnap a Hawaiian chief, in order to reclaim a cutter stolen from one of his ships.
The Ngati Oneone say Cook’s crew shot and killed six of their tribe, and they blame him for opening up the pathway with Europe, which brought settlements from the West and the demise of their own culture.
The tribute, atop an ancestral hill called Titirangi, could be replaced with one of Raikaitane, the Maori chief at the time of Cook’s landing in 1796. There are also calls to rename the area around Cook’s Plaza, which the captain dubbed ‘Poverty Bay’ after landing there but being unable to restock his ship.
Councillor Meredith Akuhata-Brown said: ‘It’s significant because James never climbed Titirangi and so for local iwi [tribes people] it’s been a massive disappointment that he’s maintained that space for as long as he has.’
She added it would see a more ‘honest’ history of New Zealand discussed from now on.
The statue will be housed in nearby Tairawhiti Museum until a permanent place is found for it. It is part of a growing push to remove statues of colonial figures in New Zealand, especially those accused of atrocities towards the Maoris.
Cook’s statue has previously been covered in red paint and had a white bikini painted on to it.
His ship, HMS Endeavour, on which he discovered New Zealand and Australia, has been found at the bottom of a harbor off America’s east coast, experts believe.
It was sold as a prisoner transport ship and sculled during the American War of Independence in a bid to block off Rhode Island harbor.