VANDALS have defaced a monument to renowned explorer Captain James Cook, daubing it with paint and leaving the New Zealand name 'Maori’s' across the base.

While many are up in arms “appalled at the desecration” of the monument on the North York Moors above Great Ayton, some doubt that it is mindless vandalism and believe it is a reaction to Captain Cook as an increasingly controversial figure.

While he has historically been renowned as the discoverer of New Zealand which he charted and explored in 1770 as part of his first circumnavigation of the globe, many on the other side of the world in New Zealand point out it was actually discovered by the Maori around 1250.

County councillor Heather Moorhouse, who lives close to the monument said she is appalled.

“I just find it so terrible that anyone would daub paint on the memorial, It is so sad and this is no way to express any concerns about the history. James Cook is such an iconic figure for this area. I look out on the monument and I find it a real thrill.

“What he did was just like men landing on the moon now, sailing halfway round the world and mapping the country. I think it is very distressing that people have to go to such measures, if they have an issue about Captain Cook then by all means voice it but don’t deface the monument. James Cook can’t be blamed for what has been said since. This is nothing short of criminal damage and we will have to find some way of paying to repair it.”

The Northern Echo:

Captain James Cook monument above Great Ayton Picture: Google

The obelisk was erected by Whitby banker Robert Campion in 1827 to celebrate Captain James Cook. There is concern the inscription plaque which has been daubed with blue paint talks about savages and pagans. It says: “while it shall be deemed the honour of a Christian Nation to spread civilisation and the blessings of the Christian faith among pagan and savage tribes, so long will the name of Captain Cook stand out amongst the most celebrated and most admired benefactors of the human race.”

An information board in the nearby car park has also been defaced.

One protestor complained: ”It’s Mindless vandalism they have no respect for anything now.”

But another local added: “This doesn’t appear to be mindless vandalism.

"I grew up within sight of this monument but I’ve also visited New Zealand and the Sounds that Cook ‘discovered’ for the west. He remains a controversial figure, an amazing man in many respects that our region should be proud of within context but he was undoubtedly flawed and certainly problematic when viewed from the Maori perspective.

"I don’t agree with the vandalism but it’s possible that it comes from a place of deep hurt.

"He was an amazing man within the context of his time. Doesn’t mean he didn’t also do bad things that need to be taught and understood in the modern world.”