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Moving ceremony at Waitangi

Moving ceremony at Waitangi carries message of thanks and healing

A gunshot that rang out a quarter of a Century ago has been remembered on Te Tii Beach (Waitangi), but this time in a spirit of gratitude and healing.

“Two hundred and fifty years ago, my ancestor Te Koukou was shot and wounded on Motuarohia, when members of the Endeavour opened fire,” says local kaumatua and tohunga whakairo, Te Warihi Hetaraka.

“Koukou was later treated by Tupaia from Tahiti, who was travelling aboard the Endeavour and assisting with navigation, as well as liaison with Māori.

“At Te Tii Beach, I presented navigators of the Tahitian vessel Fa’afaite, visiting Aotearoa as part of the Tuia 250 Voyage flotilla, with a rei puta, a carved whale tooth, as a mark of thanks for Tupaia’s help all those years ago.”

The handover to two Tahitian navigators, Moeata Galenon and Titaua Teipoarii, took place this weekend, immediately after the pōwhiri at Te Tii Marae, which welcomed the Voyage flotilla to Pēwhairangi Bay of Islands.

With Te Warihi were other descendants of Te Koukou, as well as others from the visiting Tahitian crew and co-chair of the Tuia 250 National Coordinating Committee, Hoturoa Barclay-Kerr.

“I based the rei puta on one that Koukou is wearing in an historical print,” says Te Warihi.

“It felt appropriate to me to present this taonga as part of Tuia 250, which I believe is helping us take a big step forwards towards a more positive future.

“Tuia 250 is about having honest conversations, rebalancing history and building a shared future based on dual heritage.

“For too long, the stories of Māori have been unheard, and we have lived in a monoculture.

“Tuia 250 is helping to change this. We cannot change the pain of the past, but in acknowledging it honestly and openly, we can move forwards.”

The handover yesterday took place in warm spring sunshine in front of the Fa’afaite, which arrived at Te Tii Beach in the morning with other waka from the Tuia 250 Voyage flotilla.

“As well as celebrating a specific act of kindness 250 years ago, the taonga I presented also symbolises a deep connection between Māori and Tahitian people.

“We all come from the same origins, the same homeland of Hawaiki, so we were all brothers and sisters from the same whānau on the beach.”

Tahitian navigator Moeata Galenon said the crew on the Fa’afaite has sailed in the traces of their ancestors from Tahiti, and long before making this voyage Tupaia was on their minds.

“We’ve been looking for some tohu (sign) from him. When we reach the shore of Aotearoa, we look for him. When we sail we look for him. In Rangitāhua, we looked for him,” says Moeata.

“We’ve asked ourselves what he would have done that we didn’t do. How did he sail, how did he interpret the signs that we don’t know yet?

“It’s so special for us to know this story because we didn’t know this story. Who would have thought that 250 years later, the descendants of those two men would meet eye to eye again.”

ENDS

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