Hamilton businessman threatens to cut hours of Māori employees to protest removal of statue

Headlines 15/06/2020

The statue of Captain coloniser aka John Hamilton was carefully removed from Hamilton's Civic Square on Friday after protesters threatened to knock it down.

The move follows a number of global instances where statues of controversial historical figures have been pulled down by protesters and local authorities alike.

Despite the mounting support to stop celebrating rapists, murderers and colonisers in the form of monuments, opposition to the removals has also grown.

One Hamilton business owner was so offended by the removal of the statue that he publicly threatened to cut the hours of his Māori employees in protest.

In a since deleted comment on a Hamilton City Council Facebook post, business owner James Gollan stated that "until it is returned, we are going to cut any Māori employees back to three days a week..."

Naturally, the comment was soon deleted after significant backlash. Being publicly racist has never been acceptable but maybe somebody forgot to tell Gollan?

As it turns out, Gollan is not only openly racist, but a convicted criminal as well. In 2011, Gollan was jailed for assault after threatening to use a shotgun, before swinging a baseball bat at a repossession agent and his brother when they attempted to repossess a motor vehicle.

Hamilton's Mayor says the controversial statue of the colonial figure who gave his name to the city shouldn't have been installed outside the city council buildings in the first place.

"I got advice from staff about a credible threat to public property that might occur during the Black Lives Matter march on Saturday," Mayor Paula Southgate told The AM Show on Monday, rejecting claims the council bowed to pressure from activists, inspired by the recent wave of anti-racism protests and attacks on statues around the world. 

Unlike some other statues around the country, the monument to Capt Hamilton isn't a relic - it was donated in 2013 by the Gallagher Group, and has been a point of contention for local iwi ever since. In 2018 it was defaced with red paint and attacked with a hammer, and the council considered removing it then because it was proving to be a financial "liability" for ratepayers. 

Southgate said she doesn't know where the statue has been taken, except that it has been "tucked safely away. She doesn't want it back in front of her workplace.

"It could come back. Personally, I don't think that Captain Hamilton should be in the Civic Square, right in front of the city council, but we're open to a conversation about where he should be."

As for Gollan, his backwards ideology has no place in our society today, and should be confined to the history books as the relic of the past.