The Captain Cook statue in Marton has been covered up to give the council time to consider its future on the town's main street.
The statue on the corner of Broadway and Lower High Streets was covered in a plywood box this week as the country debates the place of colonial-era memorials in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement.
The Rangitīkei District Council said it was "aware of the recent sensitivities around historic statues, like the Captain Cook statue in Marton".
"Today the decision was made to conceal this statue to allow time for a formal decision to be made about its future," it said.
Rangitikei mayor Andy Watson said the cover would remain until "a proper decision" had taken place.
"This is a council decision, and removing the statue completely would probably mean it would be gone permanently, I think," Watson said.
"It's not something that you can just unbolt and remove easily.
"Rather than a sudden gut reaction, it was decided to protect it from any potential vandalism."
Marton, the largest town in the Rangitīkei District, was named after Marton in Yorkshire, England where Cook was born.
Cook spent a total of 328 days along New Zealand's coastline during his three voyages between 1768 and 1779.
"Cook's relations with the Māori were frequently taut and ambivalent. He made every effort to avoid bloodshed and yet Māori were killed on all but the third voyage," the Te Ara Encyclopaedia of NZ says.
The New Zealand History website agreed, calling Cook's record "ambivalent" because, despite his restraint, violent encounters still took place.
Captain Cook first made landfall in Poverty Bay in 1769. After a misunderstanding, members of the ship's crew killed nine iwi members from Ngāti Oneone.
Watson said he had already asked for the statue to be on the council's agenda prior to it being covered.
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"I had some quite respectful questioning of it, about whether council would be up for a proper conversation on this."
Te Roopu Ahi Kaa and Te Rūnanga o Ngā Wairiki Ngāti Apa chairman Pahia Turia said that, while the removal of colonial statues and street names was a temporary solution, wider conversations needed to take place.
"Statues and street names are symbolic of lots of things that we as a nation need to be courageous enough to have a conversation around," Turia said.
"Removing statues may be seen as a step in the right direction, but it's not if we're not prepared to have a harder conversation about race relations in this country.
"We have statues littered across the country that honour particular people that tangata whenua don't think should be celebrated, because of their actions, and I totally support that."
Turia said there would be people who wanted the statue to remain untouched, and others who would want it removed immediately and that education would be "the key".
"My own personal opinion is that while it's an issue, it's not the main issue.
"Ultimately, this is about us as a nation coming out on the right side of the ledger here, because we don't want to end up where we see America at the moment.
"That would be an indictment on us as a country if we allowed that to happen, and it's up to us to encourage and facilitate these conversations."
Pete Reweti, who was "born and raised" in Marton, said Captain Cook was "an integral part of how we are now".
"I think this would be a good time for the community to have a discussion about Captain Cook and what he was all about," Reweti said.
"He (Cook) was an explorer, just like my tupuna, and I personally don't have a problem with the statue being there.
"This is an issue for us here in Marton, not anyone else."
The owner of Marton Books at 287 Broadway, Ross Marshall, said the box should remain for the moment.
"When things have toned down a bit, take the box off and leave the statue as it was," Marshall said.
"I don't understand all this vandalising of statues, and it almost feels like people are jumping on the bandwagon a little bit."
Marton resident Kelly Hancocks said she thought the statue was "ugly as hell" when it first went up, but that, because there was so much history relating to Captain Cook in Marton, the statue should remain.
"I can't remember anyone vandalising it for a very long time," Hancocks said.
"I can see the case for moving the statue, because it's just perched on the side of the road at the moment."
Hancocks said that Captain Cook's history in New Zealand, and any of his actions, weren't enough to warrant the removal of his statue in Marton.
"What happened back then, that's history. We should appreciate what has come of it, and how far we've come."
Both the James Cook School and Captain Cook's Bar and Cafe, also in Marton, were unavailable for comment on whether any name changes would be considered.