Sydney: ‘No pride in genocide’: vandals deface Captain Cook statue

26 Aug 2017 – Early on Saturday, three statues in Sydney’s Hyde park – including one of Captain Cook – were attacked by vandals.

The words “change the date” and “no pride in genocide” were spray-painted on the Captain Cook statue, the former a reference to a campaign to stop celebrating Australia’s national day on the date the First Fleet landed.

Similar words were scrawled on a monument to Lachlan Macquarie, the fifth governor of New South Wales, and a statue of Queen Victoria was also targeted.

Australian Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull, in a lengthy Facebook post described the vandalism as a “cowardly criminal act”.

“But it is also part of a deeply disturbing and totalitarian campaign to not just challenge our history but to deny it and obliterate it,” Turnbull said.

“This is what Stalin did. When he fell out with his henchmen he didn’t just execute them, they were removed from all official photographs – they became non-persons, banished not just from life’s mortal coil but from memory and history itself,” he said.

“Tearing down or defacing statues of our colonial era explorers and governors is not much better than that.”

Police have launched an investigation into the “malicious damage” in Hyde Park, which they believe happened between 2am and 3am on Saturday.

Police said graffiti was also used on Sydney’s ANZAC memorial, park benches in Hyde Park, and on the Archibald memorial fountain.

Australia has been engaged in intense debate this week over an inscription on a statue of explorer, Captain James Cook, in Sydney’s Hyde Park. The statue’s inscription claims Cook “discovered” Australia, prompting criticism that it ignored tens of thousands of years of Indigenous history.

The assistant immigration minister, Alex Hawke, who is vehemently opposed to changing the date of Australia Day, condemned the attack.

“This disgraceful extreme attack on our history &culture is shameful.” he tweeted on Saturday.

Scott Morrison also tweeted that the attack was “A national insult & disgrace”

While debate raged in the media, many in Hyde Park remained oblivious to the controversy over the statue on Saturday.

One tourist lying next to the statue on Saturday said he was unaware anyone had been on the continent before the Europeans. Another was unaware of Australian Indigenous history.

 

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NZ: Captain Cook statues defaced amid calls for Maori chiefs to take his place

 

Captain Cook statue

32 July –  Statues depicting Captain Cook which are being repeatedly defaced in the New Zealand city of Gisborne have sparked a heated debate about the portrayal of the town’s complex colonial history.

Over a three week period a statue depicting Captain James Cook, gifted to the city in 1969 by a brewery company has been smeared in paint and had a bikini and sandals depicted on.

Two other statues of Captain Cook in the city have also been vandalised with red paint smeared on their face and pockets.

With the 250th anniversary of Cook’s landing in New Zealand only three years away tensions are high in the city, 350km south east of Auckland. Many residents have taken to social media to express their opinions in which Cook is described as a “murderer” and “crooked Cook”. Other posts call for one of the statues to be pulled down, saying it is insulting to local Maori.

Cook and the crew of the Endeavour landed in Gisborne’s Poverty Bay in 1769 and the first significant meetings of Europeans and Maori took place nearby.

Nick Tupara, spokesman for the Ngati Oneone tribe, said, according to historical records, Cook’s crew shot nine Maori men of his tribe, including Tupara’s ancestors. Six of the men are believed to have died.

Even though there is some contention as to whether the first statue is an accurate representation of Cook, Tupara says the English explorer is a undeniable part of Gisborne’s “story”. He has urged the community to embark on a calm and measured discussion of their history, instead of carrying out “wasteful” acts of vandalism.

“We are part of Cook’s lineage, that is a fact, and defacing our city is a poor method of showing dissension with our past.” he said.

Tupara said Cook and the Endeavour’s legacy were evident all over Gisborne, with street names, parks and public places named after the man and his ship. However public references or memorials to historical Maori leaders were lacking, and Tupara said this inequality should be addressed: “It is clear from the recent vandalism and heated social media discussion that historical wounds run deep and there is more healing that needs to happen – and I do think there should be more balance in the portrayal of our history.”

One suggestion which appears to have strong support is to replace the statue of Cook with the Maori leader of Ngati Oneone from the time of Cook’s landing.

Gisborne mayor, Meng Foon, said they had no leads on who was responsible for the vandalism, but the council would be meeting with Ngati Oneone to discuss the growing tension.

“Emotions are running pretty high about Cook at the moment, especially for local Maori who lost ancestors,” said Foon.

“The process of reconciliation between the crown and local Iwi is still a work-in-progress, and I think the recent vandalism has shown how much work there is still to be done.”

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Australia black nations risingBlack Nations Rising (BNR), published by Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance, is a grassroots Aboriginal magazine dedicated to the cause of decolonization and self-determination.  Our publication, launched in January 2015, promotes symbols, stories and strategies of indigenous resistance and revival.  We have published two editions of BNR so far, and will publish another two this year.
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