Community & Environment

Future of Captain Hamilton statue likely in August

Hamilton City Council has agreed to hold further discussions around the fate of the Captain Hamilton statue following its removal from Hamilton’s Civic Square on Friday 12 June.

Elected Members and Maangai Maaori decided at today’s Community Committee meeting that more discussion and planning was needed before any final decision could be made about the fate of Captain Hamilton. Those discussions would include a review of the Council’s Maaori strategy, culturally sensitive place names and sites and the Public Art Development Process – Permanent Artworks.

The Council had been working collaboratively with Waikato-Tainui for more than 12 months on a project to review culturally sensitive place names and sites in Hamilton. A jointly funded independent research report authored by historian Dr Vincent O’Malley was due to be presented to the two organisations before lockdown struck.

“We need to ensure the community is part of the conversation on these really important matters. We can’t rush the decision-making process here and need to ensure people are able to have their say,” Community Committee Chair Mark Bunting said.

“We have the opportunity to be celebrated as a mature and progressive city. We need to bring this work together, be brave and have tough conversations – but we will get through. This is fundamental to taking our city forward in a positive and constructive way.”

Chief Executive Richard Briggs will report back to the Committee at the August 13 meeting with a recommendation on what should happen to the statue.

The initial decision to remove the bronze statue came after a member of the public threatened to forcibly remove it. Concerns were raised around public safety and potential structural damage to the Garden Place underground carpark if it was removed with force. The statue itself would have undoubtedly been damaged.

Captain Hamilton was removed without issue by contractors and now awaits its fate in a secure, council-owned facility. The removal was supported by both Waikato-Tainui and the Gallagher family who funded the statue and gifted it to the city in 2012 to mark the Gallagher Group’s 75th anniversary.

Mayor Paula Southgate said she had supported the removal of the statue and was determined that the city have a “courageous conversation” about the history of Hamilton and how that is recognised in the future.

“Leadership is about providing a platform for all voices to be heard,” Mayor Southgate said.

“Now is the time for Hamilton, and New Zealand, to have an honest conversation so we can all understand where we have come from and where we might need to go as a city and a country.”

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