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Tuia commemorations in Mercury Bay coming into place

The arrangement for next year’s 250th anniversary of explorer James Cook's arrival in New Zealand, called “Tuia Encounters 250,” is gaining momentum with the hope everyone takes part in the national commemorations.

The commemorations have been given the maori name Tuia, meaning to weave together, symbolising bringing people together in unity. Within the Mercury Bay area, the Mercury 250 Anniversary Trust has been formed to oversee the local commemoration activities. The Trust has recently contracted well-known Whitianga resident, Jan Wright, as their event coordinator.

A big part of Jan's job is making sure information regarding the local Tuia commemorations is well showcased. At this stage, the highlight of the local commemorations will be a five-day voyaging fleet visit - from Wednesday 16 October 2019 to Sunday 20 October 2019 - that will include waka and vessels from the Royal New Zealand Navy. There is a possibility that the fleet will also include the replica of HM Bark Endeavour, Cook’s ship.

The Endeavour replica is currently based at the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney. The five-day voyaging fleet visit is to be known as “Te Pōwhiri.”

“On Thursday 17 October, a pōwhiri will be held for the voyaging fleet at Wharekaho,” says Paul Kelly, Co-Chair of the Mercury 250 Trust. “The fleet will land at the northern end of Wharekaho where they will be met by local iwi Ngati Hei and the party will then proceed to the southern end of the beach to the historic Ngati Hei pa site, where the pōwhiri will take place.

To support and help co-ordinate “Te Powhiri”, Michelle Wilson (pictured right) of Hauraki, and in particular of Ngati Paoa/Ngati Whanaunga descent has also been brought in to work closely with the Trust and Jan Wright providing strategic advice and innovative ideas influencing Tuia 250 to create and facilitate ground-breaking initiatives supporting positive social and economic change that will benefit Te Whanganui a Hei and the wider community.

Michelle brings with her 25 years of social innovation, strategic action planning and anchor event management experience that will add value to the whole experience and compliment the Trust’s skills base with her tikanga maori background and focus on the bringing together of Matauranga Maori practices and Western science.

“I am thrilled to be a part of this kaupapa (event) as it can play a very important part in the depiction of our two peoples coming together for the betterment of the community as a whole. It is a foundation anchor event where we can share, promote and socialise our stories, values, practices, arts, and future aspirations” Michelle says.

Mercury Bay Area School students will be involved in the pōwhiri, with 2,500 people, including dignitaries and national media expected to attend. An open invitation is extended to the whole community as well.

Mercury Bay Art Escape Trust has been given approval by the owners of twelve building in Whitianga – all adjacent to the main thoroughfare of Albert Street – for a mural to be painted on the exterior walls of these premises. The project has been met with great support and enthusiasm. The murals will be themed as either First Encounters or Navigation, and, as the present town upgrade in Whitianga is Navigation, the murals are an appropriate addition both to the town’s upgrade and to the kaupapa of Tuia - First Encounters 250.

Creative Mercury Bay is also organising an expo of local music and poetry to take place in the Whitianga Town Hall on Saturday 19 October 2019 from 11:00am to 11:00pm.

Te Ahukaramū Charles Royal, an indigenous composer, has been commissioned to compose a piece of choral music to be performed at the concert. Another special feature will be a group of musicians led by well-known māori artist, James Webster, playing taonga puoro, traditional Māori instruments.

A fireside storytelling evening to be held at the Whitianga Wharf is in the making and the Mercury Bay Art Escape is already working on several murals to be created throughout Whitianga.

“There is opportunity for more local events to mark Tuia Encounters 250 and anyone with ideas for the commemorations should get in touch with the Mercury Bay 250th Anniversary Trust,” says Paul Kelly.

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