Tuia 250 - Te Pōwhiri - Te Whanganui o Hei / Mercury Bay
Te Whanganui o Hei | Mercury Bay is one of four landing sites in Aotearoa/New Zealand where Māori and European first met during Cook’s 1769 voyage, therefore a significant place for Tuia - Encounters 250 commemorations. When H.M Bark Endeavour sailed into Te Whanganui o Hei waters, tangata whenua Ngāti Hei welcomed the newcomers ashore at Wharekaho Beach, and guaranteed their safe passage to Wharetāewa Pā. There, Ngāti Hei honoured Lieutenant James Cook, Tupaia - a Polynesian linguist, navigator and priest, and the scientists and crew on board the Endeavour with the Māori ritual of welcome and inclusion, the Pōwhiri. Cook also observed the transit of Mercury and accurately established the longitude of Te Whanganui a Hei on the globe.
On Friday 18 October 2019, a hugely significant event and the key ceremony Te Pōwhiri will take place, below the famous Wharetāewa Pa (fortified village). Te Pōwhiri is to acknowledge and commemorate the first encounter between Ngāti Hei and Endeavour crew 250 years ago. Te Whanganui o Hei/Mercury Bay and Wharetāewa Pā in particular, was the location of the first friendly encounters between Māori and Europeans. Apart from the current historical homestead and stock paddocks, the site remains largely untouched since the actual event.
Registrations to attend the Pōwhiri have unfortunately all been filled, however, the general public are still welcome to catch the free shuttle buses running from Buffalo Beach Reserve out to Wharekaho to view the flotilla and the proceedings from outside the Marae grounds.
There will be
a seating area set up at Simpson's Campground for those
interested in taking a look at the Tuia 250 Flotilla. The
Tuia 250 flotilla consisting of two waka hourua (double
hulled canoes)- Haunui and Ngahiraka Mai Tawhiti, a va'a
moana - Fa’faite i te Ao Mā’ohi, from Tahiti, the
replica HMB Endeavour, R. Tucker Thompson heritage ship and
the youth ship, Spirit of New Zealand, will anchor and
disembark at the northern end of Wharekaho Beach (outside
Simpson's Campground) from around 10am. This will be a
family-friendly, alcohol-free zone for all members of the
public to come along to and view the proceedings FREE of
charge. (**see below for details on transport to Wharekaho).
You will also be able to follow the hīkoi along the beach
then observe the ceremony from the beachfront or land
located at the end of Joseph Road (Leah Rd Reserve).
A Ngāti Hei representative will provide narration explaining the proceedings of the Pōwhiri along with snippets of historical information. At 11:00am the manuhiri (voyagers, community members, dignitaries, visitors to the area), will gather at the north end and begin the 1.2km hīkoi, and will be guided, along the foreshore and towards the southern end of Wharekaho Beach, in the footsteps of Cook, the scientists, Tupaia and crew, entering the site of the "Te Powhiri", where manuhiri (visitors) will take part in the traditional Māori ceremony of welcome. Members of the general public are welcome to join the hīkoi, however, access to the Ngāti Hei land and participation in the Pōwhiri is restricted to guests who have registered prior to the event due to limited numbers.
If you are attending the pōwhiri or taking part in the hīkoi please wear appropriate footwear for the beach and the land. Also please dress appropriately to the weather on the day. This event will be going ahead rain or shine and cover will not always be available.
In accordance with the ruling of the Harbour Master, there will be an exclusion zone in place in Wharekaho Bay for all other vessels and no beaching of the vessels except the waka will be allowed (Friday 18th October only).
**Free parking will be available at Buffalo Beach Reserve, Whitianga. There will be NO PARKING available anywhere in Wharekaho and the side roads will be closed to the public on this day.
Free shuttle buses will
be running all day from Buffalo Beach Reserve, Whitianga to
9am to 12pm - Buffalo Beach Reserve to Simpson's Campground (Northern end of beach)
12pm to 6pm - Buffalo Beach Reserve to Joseph Road (approx halfway along Wharekaho Beach)