Living on top of Bastia Hill in Whanganui, on a fine still winter's day I can see the mountains of the Central Plateau to the north-east, Mt Taranaki to the north-west and Kapiti Island to the south, the island fortress of that old Māori war chief and slave holder Te Rauparaha.
In the foreground is the beautiful Whanganui River wending its way to the sea through one of the prettiest towns in New Zealand. I look at these peaceful scenes and all seems well in my world.
Then I remember reality, a pandemic that has swiped its way through our country and is threatening to do so again, claiming few lives but causing untold damage to the economy and to good people's dreams and aspirations.
A pandemic that is only now gaining momentum elsewhere in the world, as I write this, estimated at two weeks from being totally out of control in the US.
Our borders will be shut for months to come apart from New Zealanders returning home, some bringing Covid-19 with them.
We also have recently realised we have a shonky quarantine system that has allowed people out of isolation without being tested and the team of five million are angry.
The pandemic is back and it may only be time before we have community transmission. More lockdowns maybe.
Then we have Black Lives Matter rearing its head again following the death of George Floyd during his arrest in Minneapolis, generating worldwide protest in countries that are already struggling with trying to enforce social distancing to fight the pandemic. BLM has transformed in New Zealand to somehow blaming the police for the terrible crime statistics of Māori, a very unfair and untrue assertion. Tragically, as an aside, a young unarmed constable died, shot to death while trying to speak to a motorist. Funnily enough the BLM group in New Zealand has been very quiet about that bit of social injustice. It seems that murderous violence inflicted on unarmed police is acceptable to New Zealand activists in Black Lives Matter and other anarchic causes blighting our world stage at present.
The old issues of climate change, immigration, nuclear war and poverty seemed to have dropped off the radar at the moment. All is not lost; we still have the madness that is Trump to fall back on.
We also had Captain Cook's statue living temporarily in a shed resembling an outside toilet in Marton's main street, protected from suspected vandals blaming him for all sorts of unfounded atrocity. The Hamilton City Council has folded at the knees with the fear of its namesake's statue being vandalised by a Māori activist, taking the statue into hiding. John Fane Charles Hamilton's crimes have yet to be listed. Was he a slave owner, a war criminal, a brutal coloniser, what was he? He died in battle at Gate Pa during the New Zealand Wars, a Royal Naval officer presumably acting on orders. Are we going to see all statues and memorials to early Pākehā New Zealanders removed or damaged? They were not perfect people, none of us are. Many like Hamilton were military men obeying orders in the heat of war.
There were dodgy deals done and New Zealand is attempting to right those but wiping out the reminders of our history is a foolish thing. Statues of these people remind all of us of our history, bad or good.
We need to be reminded constantly of the bad things that occurred in past years to stop us repeating these actions. The human species is capable of massive evil, slavery being an abhorrent example of this. If we remove all reminders of slavery, colonisers, soldiers and cruel or ignorant monarchs we remove our history. Is that the goal of whoever is behind the anti-slavery, anti-statue protests?
The past no longer exists, only the present and the future which will be controlled and sanitised. If we have no past we have no reference going forward to pass onto our children. This risks terrible mistakes being repeated. Humans do not learn other than from past experience. We can be a violent, bad lot if we choose to. Just having these statues may cause us pause to think.
I understand that many will not agree with me. How about another option to wrecking our country's colonial history, bad or good? Why not erect accompanying headstones to the statues outlining the true agreed history of the person portrayed so that we can all see this and make our own decisions.
Or, as has been suggested by another, why not a statue park in each town where all these old chaps are installed with the accompanying agreed historic explanations.
That old warrior Te Rauparaha, whose statue stands alone in Otaki, would like that.