12 Jun 2020

Winston Peters unimpressed with outcry over colonial statues

5:54 pm on 12 June 2020

New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters is describing the outcry about some of the country's statues as a "wave of idiocy".

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New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters. Photo: RNZ /Dom Thomas

A controversial statue of Captain John Hamilton has been removed from Civic Square in Hamilton where it has stood since 2013.

The decision to remove it was made after local kaumātua Taitimu Maipi declared he would tear it down during a planned protest in the city.

Peters said some "woke New Zealanders feel the need to mimic mindless actions imported from overseas".

"A self-confident country would never succumb to obliterating symbols of their history, whether it be good or bad or simply gone out of fashion", he said.

And "what next?', asked Peters.

"If one doesn't approve of war we pull down our cenotaphs? Should we demolish every school that once applied corporal punishment? Should Gandhi's statue be thrown in the Wellington harbour because we don't agree? Should knighthoods to the undeserving be post-humously withdrawn? Do Māori now disown our mixed heritage?

"The idea that statues of Captain Cook, the greatest maritime explorer of his age, be pulled down because of the history that followed him is disgraceful," Peters said.

"The woke generation are the equivalent of a person with no long-term memory, stumbling around in the present without any signposts to guide them.

"If a person, like a country, doesn't know where they have come from, they have no way of knowing where they are going", he said.

"Deal with it, grow up and read a book".

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, "woke" is defined as "aware of and actively attentive to important facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice)".

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