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Commemoration planning begins!

Commemoration planning begins!

In four years’ time the Bay of Island will celebrate and commemorate the arrival 246 years ago of two exceptional navigators, Tupaia from Tahiti and James Cook from England on the HM Bark Endeavour and planning is well underway!

While plenty is known about James Cook’s voyages of discovery, much less is known about Tupaia, a high priest-navigator originally from Ra’iatea and even less well documented is what local Māori hapū living in the Bay thought of this very first and historic meeting between the two cultures.

The significance of this voyage is internationally important as it was the first time that traditional Polynesian navigational skills combined with English cartography and it is very likely that without Tupaia’s navigational skills, the Endeavour would never have reached these shores. Northland retains many remarkable leaders who have retained the sailing and navigation skills so there is much to celebrate.

The Sestercentennial (250th anniversary) of these momentous encounters is in 2019. The New Zealand Government is putting high importance on this anniversary as one that has had a significant impact on the nation as a whole and on the pattern of New Zealand life. Planning is now getting underway to commemorate the occasion on a national scale and as part of this there will be exciting events held here in the Bay of Islands.

At each of the four landfall sites, being Gisborne, Mercury Bay in the Coromandel, Bay of Islands and Queen Charlotte Sounds, Trusts are being established to help plan the commemorations and coordinate events. Here in the Bay of Islands, the Te Au Mārie Trust has been set up and is in the early stages of planning.

Working together, the four Trusts have agreed that there will be some key themes for the anniversary; these will be Voyaging, Education, Arts Culture & Heritage, Ecological restorations and major 2019 events. A particular focus will be to ensure that the anniversary creates meaningful legacies for the future, legacies that will endure hopefully for the next 250 years and that will tell our stories in an accessible way.

Given the significance of the voyaging which brought not just the Endeavour but also Māori here centuries earlier, the Trusts are also working in partnership with the Ministry of Culture & Heritage to define a voyaging programme from Tahiti to the shores of Aotearoa New Zealand and from there around the coastline. The concept is to again combine the Polynesian navigation skills on board Waka Hourua with European Cartography on tall ships, to recreate the voyage that was made 250 years ago. Hopes are that the flotilla of vessels will call at various ports throughout the journey as part of the commemorations.

The new Trustees here in the north are excited by the potential to create some really unique and memorable initiatives to mark this major anniversary. We look forward to discussing ideas with many stakeholders over coming months, getting their input and ideas for this occasion. We will report on progress as plans take shape.

Trustees Te Au Mārie Trust: L to R Matua Wiremu Wiremu, Dame Jenny Shipley, Robert Gabel, Jane Hindle, James Eruera, Tania McInnes, Shane Jones, David Mules, Kate Martin; absent Te Warihi Hetaraka.

ENDS

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