31 Oct 2020

'Hands-on activist': Statue of Hilda Ross being unveiled in Hamilton

9:38 am on 31 October 2020

A statue of New Zealand's second female Cabinet minister and a founder of children's health camps will be unveiled in Hamilton this morning.

The statue before it was moved to its permanent site in Garden Place in Hamilton.

The statue before it was moved to its permanent site in Garden Place in Hamilton. Photo: Supplied / TOTI Trust

Dame Hilda Ross was a Hamilton city councillor, deputy mayor and went on to be an MP and government minister.

She held various posts in the first National government, including member of the Executive Council, Minister of Social Security, Minister of Welfare of Women and Children and Minister of Child Welfare.

Dame Hilda died in 1959 at the age of 75.

The statue, in Garden Place, has been erected by the Theatre of the Impossible Charitable Trust (TOTI) Trust.

Its spokesperson, Margaret Evans, said art is a way of reminding people of the stories of those who made a real impact.

She describes Dame Hilda as an absolute character.

''She had a huge background in music, social services and was a hands-on activist who was involved in every aspect of society.''

The new statue will be far less controversial than the one of Captain John Hamilton which was removed from Garden Place this year following protests about his colonial army background.

''I think statues have always been controversial, however, we think it is a really positive thing to be able to identify these characters in that physical format because then people can touch her, and look at her, and think and talk about her.''

The statue stands at 1.8m, is made of bronze and weighs in at 100kg.

''She's standing as though giving a speech, with her glasses in one hand and she is holding a copy of the 1919 Women's Parliamentary Rights Act. She is smiling and wearing her medals and she had quite a few of those and she just looks friendly.''

The statue has been created by sculptor Matt Gauldie, who also completed the statue of Horace Moore-Jones that stands in Victoria Street and one of a war horse on display at Memorial Park.

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