Remove Nixon Memorial, Auckland, NZ
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The Nixon Memorial stands at the junction of Mangere and Great South roads as an affront -- not just to the the tangata whenua whose ancestors suffered at the hands of Colonel Nixon, but to all New Zealanders who, while unafraid of our history, prefer not to memorialize a man who embodies the worst of colonial brutality.
An early settler in south Auckland and Franklin Member of the House of Representatives Colonel Marmaduke George Nixon commanded the Colonial Defence Force Cavalry during the Waikato War (1863–4). Nixon died on 27 May 1864.
Having sought and gained permission to establish a volunteer milita, Nixon pursued Maori as prey, including the women and children who died during his notorious and deadly attack on Rangiaowhia. Acording to historical accounts:
"Nixon, leading an assault on the building, was shot at the entrance and received a severe chest wound. Ten or 12 Māori and several troops were killed in the one-sided fighting that followed. The Māori dead included women and children, and all the occupants of the whare, which was set on fire. Cameron subsequently ordered his forces to return to Te Awamutu."
Alongisde Nixon, the memorial stands in tribute to the cavalrymen who perished at Rangiaowhia -- and yet the spilling of Maori blood goes unnoticed. In 2017, it is a travesty that such a one-sided account of a tragic historical episode is given literal stature.
We urge Mayor Goff and his council colleagues to act swiftly to remove the Nixon memorial and relocate it to the Auckland Museum. We reject claims that removing the statue diminishes our collective historical consciousness. To the contrary, this statue represents a Eurocentric historical worldview that inihibits a full reckoning with New Zealand's past.
As the debate swirls around Confederate monuments in the U.S. in the aftermath of events in Charlottesville, New Zealand has the opportunity to revisit our own troubled past. As the Maori father of a boy and a girl with a Chinese mother, I am acutely conscious of the need to tell our story as a nation forthrightly and with the utmost honesty. To the question, "why do we celebrate the life of men like Colonel Nixon who sought out war, and not those who seek peace?", I cannot offer them a satisfactory answer.
Can you, Mr. Goff?
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