This article is based on a report by Stuff.co.nz
Given what we know, I am astounded that there is not some intervention by the New Zealand government into the existence of this museum,” said historian Scott Hamilton.
ZIMBABWEAN expatriates based in New Zealand and local diversity experts have called on the government to shut down a Rhodesia museum, describing the facility as “disgusting and offensive”
Established in 2018 by the New Zealand-based Rhodesian Services Association, the Lion and Tusk Museum is located at the Mount Maungani resort in the coastal metropolitan city of Tauranga.
The association was formed in New Zealand in 2002 and has been a registered charity since 2008.
However, award-winning Zimbabwean playwright Stanley Makuwe, who now lives in Auckland, said the “disgusting and offensive museum” should be closed down by the New Zealand government.
“When I heard about it, I thought it was some sort of bad joke – the fact they call themselves the Rhodesian Services Association shows how they want to hark back to this time,” Makuwe told stuff.co.nz.
“They should be ashamed of what went on, not celebrating it… Celebrating this period of history of white supremacy is akin to celebrating apartheid or the holocaust. It is extremely offensive.”
Makuwe, who left Zimbabwe in 2002, continued; “This museum is exploiting ordinary New Zealanders who might visit it not fully knowing the history of Zimbabwe.
“What’s really shocking is that it is in the heart of New Zealand and a charity of which the government must be aware. The government has no excuse for letting this go on here – look at what happened in Christchurch.
“I hope when more people realise what it really is, and that it exists in our own country, they will protest until it is closed down.”
Makuwe said it is “inconceivable” that black people from Zimbabwe would want their history to be told only from one perspective.
“There is no way black people would be proud of this. If they are saying there were black Africans in the Rhodesian army – yes there were, but they need to explain that these people were forced to join up when white soldiers came to order them at school. I saw this. They had no pride at all in having to represent the white army.”
Historian Scott Hamilton said the existence of the museum “is equivalent to having a museum glorifying the atrocities of the Holocaust and the Nazi army.”
“The way Ian Smith is depicted as a hero and revered as a godlike figure in the museum is hugely concerning given he is a man who openly advocated for white supremacy and was responsible for a time for appalling atrocities and the killing of thousands.
“It would be unthinkable to have a museum glorifying Hitler but here we have this museum in Tauranga telling a story of Rhodesia from a white perspective that denies its true history of how the white minority oppressively ruled over the black majority.”
Massey University Professor Paul Spoonley said it was “interesting that this organisation exists” given the racist elements of the period in history.
“Remembering military service, or a particular period of political rule, is one thing,” he told stuff.co.nz.
“But this period of Rhodesian/Zimbabwean history was fraught and is now remembered for its racism and beliefs held by those in power in the rights of whites to rule.
“It is to be hoped that members of the Lion and Tusk acknowledge the violence of apartheid rule in Southern Africa – and the role of the armed forces in maintaining that rule.”
Museum spokesperson Hugh Bomford said the facility was aimed at preserving “the military history of Rhodesia” from its colonial beginnings in the 1890s until its transition to majority rule and name-change to Zimbabwe in 1980.
He added that the museum is the largest of its kind in the world and also acts as a gathering place for “the large Rhodesian community in New Zealand.”
The museum displays artefacts including guns, machetes, bayonets, flags, military uniforms, medals and other memorabilia of the Rhodesian army. It has several wall hangings commemorating former Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith, an overt white supremacist who famously said “the white man is master of Rhodesia. He has built it, and he intends to keep it.”
A spokesperson for the government’s Department of Internal Affairs told stuff.co.nz that the department had not received any complaints relating to the Rhodesian Services Association’s eligibility for registration under the Charities Act 2005.