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Council Approves Cultural, Arts Work Package

Hamilton City Council has signed off on a comprehensive work programme to help it make more informed decisions on issues of cultural significance.

The work, to be undertaken over the coming year, will also determine the fate of the Captain Hamilton statue, which was removed from Civic Square by the Council in June. The statue is now being stored in a secure facility until its future is decided.

At a meeting of the Community Committee today, the Council’s General Manager Community, Lance Vervoort, outlined the nine separate pieces of work that make up the programme. Collectively they are designed to create a robust strategic framework for the Council to use when considering cultural issues.

Mr Vervoort noted each piece of work was included in existing budgets with no further funds sought. Some of the work was needed to comply with legal requirements.

The work programme approved today includes:

  • Development of a strategy to support the wellbeing and aspirations of Maaori
  • Development of a city heritage plan
  • A review of how streets, open places and city facilities are named
  • Developing options to consider how to deal with controversial street names
  • A review of the Council’s existing public art process
  • Seeking clarity about the Council’s role in arts and culture
  • Reviewing and expanding plans to provide historial context and guidance to Maaori landmarks
  • Developing options for the future of the Captain Hamilton statue
  • Futher consideration of the Vincent O’Malley report into four street names in the city.

Mr Vervoort said each piece of work would require robust and wide consultation.

“Elected Members have asked staff to come back with details around a comprehensive consultation process which will allow all voices in the city to be heard – that was a very clear message from today’s meeting,” he said.

The first items expected to come back to the Community Committee are recommendations around a public art process and a strategy to support the wellbeing of Maaori, both due before the end of the year. Remaining work will be completed by mid to late 2021.

Options for the future of the Captain Hamilton statue, as well as options around Hamilton street names, will be back before the Committee by next March. Staff will report on progress quarterly.

Mr Vervoort said the work package provided a far more comprehensive approach to issues of art and heritage, the Council’s relationship with Maaori and how stories of the city are told than current processes.

“They don’t cover everything we do as a city that has significance to Maaori, or contribute to the cultural wellbeing of the city. But there are some chunky pieces of work in there and we need to take the time to do them properly so they fit into the bigger picture.”

Community Committee Chair Mark Bunting said he wanted a well-informed, measured approach and was “wildly positive” about the process going forward.

“I’m not keen on an ad hoc approach – that tends to create more problems down the track. Instead of looking at the issue of the Captain Hamilton statue in isolation, we are far, far better to take a wider view that provides a strong, inclusive foundation for the future.

“I’m quite confident we all want the best outcomes for the city so I want to see a process that doesn’t just listen to just the loudest voices. Everyone has different perspectives and I want those perspectives to be vented and heard and listened to. We have an opportunity to do some very good work here and get this right.”

A recommendation to defer the installation of a statue of Dame Hilda Ross until the public art policy was reviewed was rejected by the Committee. Instead, members voted for installation to proceed under the existing public art policy. The statue has been funded by the charitable trust, TOTI.

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