A statue of Captain Cook which keeps being vandalised is being removed from a New Zealand mountain.
The statue of Tees explorer Cook has stood on the sacred mountain of Titirangi, near the north island community of Gisborne, since 1969.
But amid a heated ongoing debate about how the town’s colonial history is represented, it has regularly been targeted by vandals.
Its different “looks” have seen him with a painted red face – and a white bra and knickers.
But the local council has decided enough’s enough and it will now be housed in a museum.
Gisborne District Council has approved a $200,000 plan to redevelop the “Cook Plaza” on Titirangi, including the removal of the Captain Cook replica statue.
Instead, after talks with the Ngati Oneone Maori tribe, the mountain will now be adorned with “iwi (Maoria tribal) stories and cultural design elements.”
The statue – which is disputed to be of Cook anyway – will instead be housed in the Tairawhiti Museum.
Supporters say the move will allow a more balanced version of historical narratives to be told in the 250th Cook anniversary commemorations next year.
It’s not the first time a Cook statue has been defaced by graffiti.
Earlier this year, pink paint was dumped on a Cook sculpture in the Australian suburb of St Kilda, the day before Australia Day.
The words “no pride” were painted beneath his feet, along with the Aboriginal flag.
In August 2017, on a statue in Sydney’s Hyde Park which states Cook “discovered” Australia, vandals daubed the words “Change the date” and “No pride in genocide” – an act slammed by Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull as “a cowardly criminal act.”
And in 2014, Cook’s old family cottage – transported brick by brick from Great Ayton to Melbourne in 1934 – was emblazoned with anti-Australia Day slogans.
In New Zealand, Cook and the Endeavour landed in Gisborne’s Poverty Bay in 1769, with the first significant meetings of Europeans and Maori taking place nearby.
But with several Maoris shot dead by Cook’s crew, Cook has recently been labelled “crooked” and a “murderer” on social media.
Talks are also under way for Poverty Bay – named by Cook in 1769 – to be replaced by its Maori name, or given a dual name – Turanganui-a-Kiwa/Poverty Bay
Confirming the plan, the Gisborne District Council said: “Ngati Oneone have been supportive that the Cook replica be removed and replaced with a new symbol that allows for wider interpretation of Te Tairawhiti.
“While the statue is not a true replica of Cook, it has an interesting story that should be shared. Tairawhiti Museum has given its support to display the statue.
“Further community engagement is planned around renaming the Cook Plaza site and other key areas, including the summit and walking tracks.”