NZ town taking down Captain Cook statue
A STATUE of Captain Cook that stands on a mountain in New Zealand will be removed because the local mayor says "he's been dead a long time".
The statue has stood overlooking Gisborne in the country's North Island for the last 49 years, but it has long been opposed by Maori tribes as it sits on ancestral mountain Titirangi.
Gisborne's District Council announced plans to remove the statue on Monday, saying it will instead be placed at the Tairawhiti museum.
Gisborne Mayor Meng Foon was asked by Radio Live why he was "trying to hide Captain Cook".
"Well, he's been dead a long time," he responded.
"What we've done is taken him down, put him in the museum somewhere where the museum will curate him.
"We're going to honour the past of Ngāti Oneone (local iwi, or tribe) and they will decide what's going to go on their mountain," he said.
Mr Foon said obviously there was a place for Captain Cook in Gisborne.
"There's a big monument at the bottom of the hill called the Cook Monument, and that was erected around 1902," he said.
Iwi spokesman Barney Tupara told local television the removal of Captain Cook from the mountain will allow for "more balanced storytelling" ahead of the commemorations of the 250th anniversary of Cook's voyage.
It's claimed local tribes were not consulted when the statue, in an area known as Cook's Plaza, was first erected in 1969 as part of the bicentenary commemoration of Captain Cook's arrival.
The statue has been subject to vandalism in recent years, sparking debate about whether it should be moved.
The council said in a statement that Cook's Plaza will be upgraded so iwi stories and culture can be shared from the "significant location".
The statue has also been criticised over the years for not looking like Cook.
"While the statue is not a true replica of Cook, it has an interesting story that should be shared," the council wrote.
The council said they also planned to rename the site in future.
In August, Maori Television reported a memorial was being built by Ngāti Oneone in Gisborne to honour their ancestor - Te Maro - who they say was shot by Captain Cook when he first arrived in New Zealand in 1769.
Te Maro was considered to be a prominent leader in the area, but as he approached the foreign explorer on the beach, he was shot dead.
Councillor Meredith Akuhata-Brown told stuff.co.nz the community wanted an "honest narrative" about local history in future.
In the last year Australia has also engaged in debate over Captain Cook, with multiple statues vandalised in the lead up to Australia Day.
Pink paint was dumped on Cook's head in Melbourne and the statue in Sydney's Hyde Park was spray painted with "Change the Date".