Oh lordy me, I agree with Brian Rudman

I feel faint, I just read a column from Brian Rudman I agree with.

Stranded in the wastelands of weekend morning TV, I suspect current affairs showThe Nation‘s attempts to topple Governor George Grey and Colonel Marmaduke Nixon from their respective pedestals in Albert Park and downtown Otahuhu will die a rapid death.

It must have been a very slow news day that persuaded editors to take the recent student “Rhodes Must Fall” campaigns against statues of the 19th century imperialist Cecil Rhodes at Cape Town and Oxford universities, and scratch around in Auckland for possible targets for similar expunging. The programme even sniffed around at the base of the huge obelisk erected in 1948 at the top of One Tree Hill by the John Logan Campbell Trust, in salute to the Maori people, hinting that Sir John’s motives in bequeathing the monument, seen through 21st century eyes, were suspect.

It was a bizarre programme, and not at all original, and boy didn’t Tim Watkin get upset by my criticism of it.

With the civilised world newly aghast at the extent of the deliberate destruction of ancient monuments by Isis religious fanatics at the Syrian city of Palmyra, worrying about the fate of a couple of monuments to British war-makers from the mid-19th century New Zealand land wars might seem rather trivial.

But as historian Jock Phillips forcefully argued on the programme, despite both men having “blood on their hands” he opposed “evidence of the past [being] obliterated”. Comparing it to book-burning, he said it was important to understand and document how past generations thought about things.


George Grey served two terms as governor between 1845 and 1868 and served as an MP from 1874-1893, including a period as premier. Pushing over his statue is not going to change that. As for Colonel Marmaduke Nixon, the now, it seems, totally unknown warrior of Otahuhu, he was a retired British army officer who settled in Mangere in 1852. When the Waikato War broke out he formed the settlers’ Mounted Defence Force and led a raid on a village at Rangiaowhia, full of defenceless women and children. Many died, including Nixon himself, who, mortally wounded, lingered on for three months before expiring. Phillips calls the raid “an appalling act of genocide,” but argues the monument should remain as a vital link to our past.

Amazing how Marmaduke Nixon managed to die at the hands of those same “Defenceless women and children”.

The shame is that very few Aucklanders knows what that link is. Yet when he died in May 1864 Nixon was universally mourned by fellow settlers. The Daily Southern Cross details the public meeting in Auckland soon afterwards, attended by the Governor’s private secretary, high military officers and local worthies to plan a monument to the hero’s memory.

A fountain was suggested, and a scholarship. The Governor proposed “a small or plain monument” with the bulk of funds raised being given to Nixon’s two sisters “who were in somewhat straitened circumstances”. There was argument over whether it be erected in Remuera, Newmarket or on a site on Queen St near where Robbie now stands.

The end result was the existing 14 metre high obelisk in Otahuhu, subsequently to be joined by a World War I memorial. It’s a link to our past that too few know or care about. Bowling it over would just contribute to this collective amnesia. We need more reminders of our past, warts and all, not less.

Rudman is exactly right. Looking at the monuments from the past through the lenses of todays hipsters is wrong.

I hope Rudman doesn’t keep on writing columns like this, I’ll faint. He should get back to writing about demanding ratepayers fund his hobby of going to the theatre.


– NZ Herald

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.