Tuesday, November 5, 2013

There has been much comment and emotion about a monument to a paramilitary force known  as Massey Cossacks being put on the Auckland waterfront .
 I wrote to the New Zealand  Herald. in response to this  controversy  and also as an  attempt to explain  why such  a monument is contentious and should not be on the Auckland waterfront.
  This letter was published Friday,  I November , 2013 and was entitled Waterfront Memorial .

Massey’s Cossacks are recorded  in our history .What is forgotten is  they were the forerunners of the Black and Tans the paramilitary force unleashed by Britain on the Irish populace six years later.  That is why their memory is so offensive to many New Zealanders. Would the Irish tolerate a memorial to The Black and Tans in the republic?
 They are the true comparison. I agree with your letter writer John Walsh that we should not sanitise our history but we must know it first.
Before the Cossacks were organised things were reasonably calm.   There had been a peaceful march from Ponsonby through Freemans Bay led by Michael Joseph Savage with the banner If Blood be the Price of Your cursed Wealth. We have bought it Fair.
 Massey replaced Police Commissioner Mitchell with his friend and fellow Orangemen Cullen then mayhem happened. The Cossacks raged and violence followed .
These were not good old boys riding in to Wellington and Auckland to give the wharfies a biff.  They were armed by the state, organised and in Auckland barracked in the Domain.   One of their billy clubs sits above the bar of the Northern Club in Auckland. That is their memorial.