“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic, and military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”Joseph Goebbels (Nazi Minister of propaganda).
The heart of Hamilton was once graced with a statue of the city’s namesake, Captain John Fane Charles Hamilton. It was a gift from the world-famous Gallagher Group, founded in Hamilton in the 1930s, to commemorate the company’s 75th anniversary
In a move that has made headlines in England, Hamilton City Council gave in to threats by serial activist, vandal and whinger, Taitimu Maipi, to take down the statue. “This guy here”, Maipi said of the statue, “he murders all of our people at the Battle of Gate Pa and he gets a statue celebrating his achievements.”
Others chimed in. Kip Ormsby said the statue needed to be removed from public areas because it represented a painful time in history for Maori. “We believe he is responsible for a lot of the atrocities that happened to our people”. The New Zealand Herald declared Hamilton “killed Maori in the Waikato land war”.
The statue would be understandably offensive if those claims were true. But they are lies.
John Hamilton was Captain of HMS Esk, which arrived at Tauranga on 21 April 1864, having been sent to reinforce General Sir Duncan Alexander Cameron in preparation for moving against Maori rebels in the Waikato.
NZHistory.govt.nz notes Governor Grey had given strict instructions that local Maori who were neutral were not to be provoked. However, Ngai Te Rangi leader Rawiri Puhirake decided to attack the British.
After various skirmishes, including attacks on settlers, Puhirake built Gate Pa to draw the British out of their redoubts into a cleverly designed ambush.
During the battle, Captain Hamilton led a storming party consisting of “the second division of blue-jackets and the gallant 43rd”. As a naval officer, Hamilton was armed with a sword. He sprung upon the parapet, and shouting “follow me, men!”, dashed into the fight. That moment was his last. He fell dead, pierced through the brain by a bullet, and many of his officers shared the same fate.
Hamilton was in New Zealand for 12 hours. He did not even fire a shot, and did not get close enough to fight anyone. What were the atrocities he committed? Whom did he murder? This was not even the Waikato Land War. The accusations against Hamilton are false.
We could choose to see this as an atrocity committed by Maori, resulting in the deaths of 35 British soldiers. With the distance of 156 years, I choose to see it as clever tactics by an innovative Maori leader, and worthy of celebration.
Instead, a bunch of undeniably racist luddites have fabricated a narrative to claim offence against the memory of a white man. There will always be elements in society, of all colours, who behave this way. The only real offence is that the council gave into them.
An obvious solution would have been for the council to educate the protesters and the public about the truth. Hamilton died bravely, carrying out his orders. That can both be celebrated and used as a lesson on the foolhardiness of “duty”.
Another obvious solution would be to commemorate Maori leaders with a statue as balance, adding to our public spaces rather than destroying our history. The Maori siege engineering was considered revolutionary for its time, and could be used to encourage a self-belief in Maori innovation.
Instead the Hamilton City Council CEO chose to pander to the corrupt and idiotic woke radicals, removing the statue without consulting the elected councilors.
Worse, in doing so, he has diminished real grievances, as the general populace grow tired of pretence at offence over trivial matters.
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