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  • Digital Humanities and Cultural Heritage
  • Publications
  • Other research products
  • 2021-2021
  • NZ

  • Open Access English
    Nick Wilson; Amanda C. Jones; Andrea Teng; George Thomson;
    Publisher: Public Library of Science (PLoS)

    Objectives We aimed to describe the epidemiology of statue attacks along with statue representativeness relative to modern day demographics in one case study country: New Zealand. Methods We performed Internet searches for the existence of outdoor statues of named individuals and historical attacks in New Zealand (NZ), combined a national survey with field visits to all identified statues to examine for injuries and repairs. Results Of the 123 statues identified, nearly a quarter (n = 28, 23%) had been attacked at least once (total of 45 separate attack events), with the number of attacks increasing from the 1990s. Attacks involved paint/graffiti (14% of all statues at least once), nose removal/damage (7%), decapitation (5%), and total destruction (2%). The risk of attack was relatively higher for statues of royalty (50%), military personnel (33%), explorers (29%), and politicians (25%), compared to other reasons for fame (eg, 0% for sports players). Statue subjects involved in colonialism or direct harm to Māori (Indigenous population), had 6.61 (95%CI: 2.30 to 19.9) greater odds (adjusted odds ratio) of being attacked than other subjects. Most of the statue subjects were of men (87%) and Europeans (93%). Other ethnicities were 6% Māori (comprising 15% of the population) and 1% each for Asian and Pacific peoples, who comprise 12% and 7% of the population respectively. Conclusions This national survey found an association between statue attacks and the role of statue subjects in colonialism or direct harm to the Indigenous population. Furthermore, the demography of the statue subjects may represent historical and current social power relationships—with under-representation of women and non-European ethnic groups.