Evaluating a national heritage site

The Cook Landing Site and its physical condition.

The Cook Landing Site and its physical condition.

OFFICIAL UNVEILING: The Cook monument was officially unveiled on October 8, 1906. At the time the monument was positioned 80 feet (25m) from the high-water mark. Thousands of people attended the unveiling, according to the Poverty Bay Herald. Picture by William Crawford, courtesy Tairawhiti Museum
Memorial committee: The Cook Memorial Committee in 1906 when the monument was unveiled consisted of (from left) Mayor John Townley, G. Sampson, Captain William Tucker, Archdeacon Herbert Williams (chairman), Reverend William L. Williams, Walter Gaudin (secretary) and a Mr Davies. Archdeacon William L. Williams first proposed a memorial to Cook in 1888 and a Gisborne Times editorial (probably written by Mr Gaudin) promoted the idea again in 1902. Picture courtesy of Tairawhiti Museum
BEING REDEVELOPED: Work under way at the Cook Landing Site, photographed yesterday. Picture by Liam Clayton

With Gisborne leading off national Tuia 250 commemorations in October, Wynsley Wrigley looks at a report evaluating the cultural value of the Cook Landing Site and its physical condition 113 years after it was unveiled to much fanfare . . .

Commemorations in October of the 250th anniversary of the arrival here of Lieutenant James Cook and his crew could allow Gisborne’s port company “to reconsider its role as a public body and good corporate citizen”, says a conservation plan for the Cook Landing Site prepared last year by Salmond Reed Architects.

Redevelopment work is now under way at the landing site between the port and Kaiti Beach, with a planned completion date of August. The aim of the redevelopment is to “enhance’’ the monument and landscaping, and includes installation of a sculpture to acknowledge the whare wananga Puhi Kai Iti and the landing site of the navigator Maia’s waka.

The Department of Conservation (DoC), which administers this national historic reserve, is delivering the project with Ngati Oneone and Gisborne District Council.

Across Kaiti Beach Road on Titirangi/Kaiti Hill, the Ruatanuika lookout and a sculpture to acknowledge the ancestor Te Maro will also be completed in time for the sestercentennial commemorations in October, says the council, while a pedestrian bridge connecting the sites is now planned to be built afterwards.

The aim of last year’s report on the landing site was to evaluate the cultural heritage value of the monument and its surrounds, “guide the repair process and to record the present condition of the structure”.

The monument was described as substantially sound in its construction.

“It is understood to be earthquake-prone and consequently it is to be seismically strengthened.”

The report, which was commissioned by DoC, said the Tuia 250 Ki Turanga commemorations offered an opportunity for Eastland Port to protect the view from the Cook monument to the sea, “something it agreed to do in 1990 and has notoriously failed to do ever since”.

A focus on the commercial importance of the port to Gisborne’s economic well-being had seen the steady encroachment of operations into the sea, in front of the monument and ultimately beyond the monument to the east along Kaiti Beach.

Authenticity ‘largely destroyed’ by port

“This has buried the whole of the original channel through the reef (including the actual landing site), has progressively increased the distance of the monument from the water’s edge, and has ultimately blocked views of the sea and Te Kurī-a-Pāoa from the site on a more or less permanent basis,” said the report.

“While remaining a striking landmark in its setting, the monument’s landscape value and strong aesthetic values have been significantly degraded, hemmed in as it is by the port’s operational area and buildings.”

One conservation objective suggested by the report was:

To create an appropriate setting for the Cook Landing Site Monument which acknowledges change over time but does not lose site of the fundamental intent of its establishment on this site and preserves its critical relationship with the sea.

“It will be of critical importance to retain and protect the Cone of Vision as the authentic outlook from the monument to the far horizon.”

Strategies to screen the worst effects of heavy logging traffic could include physical screens and native plants, to create a sense of shelter and containment.

“A preferable strategy will be to relocate the log truck exit from the port area, in consultation with Eastland Port. This could readily be reformed further along Kaiti Beach Road with no evident operational impact while creating a visual and acoustic separation from the historic reserve.

“Consideration could be given over part of the reserve to locating and exposing the original rock strata that defined the water’s edge landing site and using this as a device for explaining the spatial and historic relationship of the monument to those natural features.’’

The report said Eastland Port was a major publicly-owned stakeholder that was substantially enclosing the monument and the landing site landscape — one of only two national historic reserves in the North Island, the other being across the bay at Te Kurī-a-Pāoa/Young Nicks Head.

The other conservation objective was:
To maintain the original form and fabric of the Cook Landing Site Monument “while recognising and accommodating the essential need to strengthen the monument against further seismic events’’.

Conservation management of the monument should recognise the value of patina as a legitimate consequence of age.
Likewise, minor blemishes should be tolerated where they did not result in structural or material damage.

The report said the site was also where the great voyaging waka Horouta and Takitimu landed, and where early Maori settlement took place. Then in 1769 the first land-based encounters between Maori and Europeans took place there.

The presence of Tupaia, a Tahitian high priest and navigator on Cook’s Endeavour, during those meetings forged a direct link back to the ancestral homeland, Hawaiki.

The Cook monument location was chosen for its proximity to the actual landing site — a natural channel in the reef that once provided safe passage for voyaging and fishing canoes, and later the boats from Cook’s Endeavour.

The monument is within 100 metres, possibly to within 50m, of where Cook landed — according to investigations made by Leonard Williams in the late 1880s.

The channel had long been a landing site for Maori and was a clearly visible landmark on the Kaiti seashore well into the 20th century.

The alignment of the channel was well recorded and allowed the landing place to be located with unusual precision, although the greater part of this was now covered by a coolstore structure erect by the port.

“Here, two great voyaging traditions met and the country’s shared history began,’’ said the report.

The significance of the site had been well recognised in the past, but its voyaging and maritime heritage had been interpreted through a European lens.

“This is evident in its naming as ‘Cook’s Landing Site’.”

“This is potentially a World Heritage Site yet, despite its outstanding significance for all New Zealanders, the site has seen its status and appearance dramatically degraded since October 1906.”

In 1906, the monument was positioned 80 feet (25m) from high-water mark and its open siting and simple surroundings gave it very great architectural impact.

In the 1950s it stood 250 feet (76m) away due to a yachting clubhouse, Kaiti freezing works activities, Gisborne City Council’s sewerage system and Gisborne Harbour Board leasing land to Shell 240 feet from the monument for oil storage tanks.

“The board thought these were of more use than a Cook reserve,” the report said.

“In 2018, one of New Zealand’s most important historic sites is hemmed in by logs and port buildings, and its architectural impact and authentic links with the sea and its voyaging history are greatly degraded.

“It originally enjoyed an uninterrupted visual relationship with the bay and Te Kurī-aPāoa/Young Nicks Head which is important for the authenticity of the earlier voyaging history of the site as well as the first European landing.

“This authenticity has been largely destroyed by continued reclamation, by the refusal of the port company to honour the intent of the Cone of Vision and by the manner in which logging trucks enter and leave the port area immediately adjacent to the site.”

  • Gisborne District Council says the entire redevelopment, when completed, will provide a visitor experience of 1000 years of the district’s navigational history through installation of taonga, improved heritage interpretation and storytelling elements, connections, landscaping and amenities.

The Provincial Growth Fund is contributing $1.6 million for the Cook Landing Site redevelopment, while $3.1m is coming from the Lottery Significant Projects Fund for the 1000-Year Walk Bridge, Ruatanuika lookout and Te Maro sculpture. The council will be seeking more external funding to meet an expected higher cost than originally estimated for the walk bridge.

With Gisborne leading off national Tuia 250 commemorations in October, Wynsley Wrigley looks at a report evaluating the cultural value of the Cook Landing Site and its physical condition 113 years after it was unveiled to much fanfare . . .

Commemorations in October of the 250th anniversary of the arrival here of Lieutenant James Cook and his crew could allow Gisborne’s port company “to reconsider its role as a public body and good corporate citizen”, says a conservation plan for the Cook Landing Site prepared last year by Salmond Reed Architects.

Redevelopment work is now under way at the landing site between the port and Kaiti Beach, with a planned completion date of August. The aim of the redevelopment is to “enhance’’ the monument and landscaping, and includes installation of a sculpture to acknowledge the whare wananga Puhi Kai Iti and the landing site of the navigator Maia’s waka.

The Department of Conservation (DoC), which administers this national historic reserve, is delivering the project with Ngati Oneone and Gisborne District Council.

Across Kaiti Beach Road on Titirangi/Kaiti Hill, the Ruatanuika lookout and a sculpture to acknowledge the ancestor Te Maro will also be completed in time for the sestercentennial commemorations in October, says the council, while a pedestrian bridge connecting the sites is now planned to be built afterwards.

The aim of last year’s report on the landing site was to evaluate the cultural heritage value of the monument and its surrounds, “guide the repair process and to record the present condition of the structure”.

The monument was described as substantially sound in its construction.

“It is understood to be earthquake-prone and consequently it is to be seismically strengthened.”

The report, which was commissioned by DoC, said the Tuia 250 Ki Turanga commemorations offered an opportunity for Eastland Port to protect the view from the Cook monument to the sea, “something it agreed to do in 1990 and has notoriously failed to do ever since”.

A focus on the commercial importance of the port to Gisborne’s economic well-being had seen the steady encroachment of operations into the sea, in front of the monument and ultimately beyond the monument to the east along Kaiti Beach.

Authenticity ‘largely destroyed’ by port

“This has buried the whole of the original channel through the reef (including the actual landing site), has progressively increased the distance of the monument from the water’s edge, and has ultimately blocked views of the sea and Te Kurī-a-Pāoa from the site on a more or less permanent basis,” said the report.

“While remaining a striking landmark in its setting, the monument’s landscape value and strong aesthetic values have been significantly degraded, hemmed in as it is by the port’s operational area and buildings.”

One conservation objective suggested by the report was:

To create an appropriate setting for the Cook Landing Site Monument which acknowledges change over time but does not lose site of the fundamental intent of its establishment on this site and preserves its critical relationship with the sea.

“It will be of critical importance to retain and protect the Cone of Vision as the authentic outlook from the monument to the far horizon.”

Strategies to screen the worst effects of heavy logging traffic could include physical screens and native plants, to create a sense of shelter and containment.

“A preferable strategy will be to relocate the log truck exit from the port area, in consultation with Eastland Port. This could readily be reformed further along Kaiti Beach Road with no evident operational impact while creating a visual and acoustic separation from the historic reserve.

“Consideration could be given over part of the reserve to locating and exposing the original rock strata that defined the water’s edge landing site and using this as a device for explaining the spatial and historic relationship of the monument to those natural features.’’

The report said Eastland Port was a major publicly-owned stakeholder that was substantially enclosing the monument and the landing site landscape — one of only two national historic reserves in the North Island, the other being across the bay at Te Kurī-a-Pāoa/Young Nicks Head.

The other conservation objective was:
To maintain the original form and fabric of the Cook Landing Site Monument “while recognising and accommodating the essential need to strengthen the monument against further seismic events’’.

Conservation management of the monument should recognise the value of patina as a legitimate consequence of age.
Likewise, minor blemishes should be tolerated where they did not result in structural or material damage.

The report said the site was also where the great voyaging waka Horouta and Takitimu landed, and where early Maori settlement took place. Then in 1769 the first land-based encounters between Maori and Europeans took place there.

The presence of Tupaia, a Tahitian high priest and navigator on Cook’s Endeavour, during those meetings forged a direct link back to the ancestral homeland, Hawaiki.

The Cook monument location was chosen for its proximity to the actual landing site — a natural channel in the reef that once provided safe passage for voyaging and fishing canoes, and later the boats from Cook’s Endeavour.

The monument is within 100 metres, possibly to within 50m, of where Cook landed — according to investigations made by Leonard Williams in the late 1880s.

The channel had long been a landing site for Maori and was a clearly visible landmark on the Kaiti seashore well into the 20th century.

The alignment of the channel was well recorded and allowed the landing place to be located with unusual precision, although the greater part of this was now covered by a coolstore structure erect by the port.

“Here, two great voyaging traditions met and the country’s shared history began,’’ said the report.

The significance of the site had been well recognised in the past, but its voyaging and maritime heritage had been interpreted through a European lens.

“This is evident in its naming as ‘Cook’s Landing Site’.”

“This is potentially a World Heritage Site yet, despite its outstanding significance for all New Zealanders, the site has seen its status and appearance dramatically degraded since October 1906.”

In 1906, the monument was positioned 80 feet (25m) from high-water mark and its open siting and simple surroundings gave it very great architectural impact.

In the 1950s it stood 250 feet (76m) away due to a yachting clubhouse, Kaiti freezing works activities, Gisborne City Council’s sewerage system and Gisborne Harbour Board leasing land to Shell 240 feet from the monument for oil storage tanks.

“The board thought these were of more use than a Cook reserve,” the report said.

“In 2018, one of New Zealand’s most important historic sites is hemmed in by logs and port buildings, and its architectural impact and authentic links with the sea and its voyaging history are greatly degraded.

“It originally enjoyed an uninterrupted visual relationship with the bay and Te Kurī-aPāoa/Young Nicks Head which is important for the authenticity of the earlier voyaging history of the site as well as the first European landing.

“This authenticity has been largely destroyed by continued reclamation, by the refusal of the port company to honour the intent of the Cone of Vision and by the manner in which logging trucks enter and leave the port area immediately adjacent to the site.”

  • Gisborne District Council says the entire redevelopment, when completed, will provide a visitor experience of 1000 years of the district’s navigational history through installation of taonga, improved heritage interpretation and storytelling elements, connections, landscaping and amenities.

The Provincial Growth Fund is contributing $1.6 million for the Cook Landing Site redevelopment, while $3.1m is coming from the Lottery Significant Projects Fund for the 1000-Year Walk Bridge, Ruatanuika lookout and Te Maro sculpture. The council will be seeking more external funding to meet an expected higher cost than originally estimated for the walk bridge.

Unveiling of monument a big occasion

Gladstone Road was “thronged’’ with spectators watching a procession of sailors, local militia, military cadets and musicians marching to the unveiling of the Cook Monument 113 years ago.

Edwardian Gisborne expressed joy on that day — October 8, 1906, the 137th anniversary of Cook’s landing.
“Balconies, windows and other coigns of vantage along the route were lined with people,” reported the Poverty Bay Herald.

The procession was estimated to be 500-strong with crew from HMS Challenger, a 5800 ton cruiser, and members of the East Coast Mounted Rifles, Gisborne Rifles, Salvation Army Band, defence cadets and school cadets.

Their arrival at the monument ‘‘was awaited by thousands of spectators’’ including “a body of 60 Poverty Bay natives, men and women, lined up under the leadership of Pera Rouka of Te Arai”.

Boats from Challenger carrying the parliamentary party, which included James Carroll and Apirana Ngata, were greeted by a haka composed for the occasion.

“At the attention of the mayor (John Townley) three hearty cheers were given for the natives.”

Mr Townley said Maori present at the unveiling were descendants “of men who had defied Cook’s landing, and who had preferred their country to the spirit moving on the water, but who since then had appreciated the mixed life with Europeans”.
Mr Carroll, Native Affairs Minister (and later Sir James Carroll), said descendants of those who opposed Cook and ‘‘the Pakeha race which had unfolded the great discoveries of the world’’ were meeting on the same platform “to do honour to that great discoverer”.

In an editorial before the unveiling, the Herald said October 8 was known locally as Cook Day.


Your email address will not be published. Comments will display after being approved by a staff member. Comments may be edited for clarity.

C.B. - 29 days ago
What a shame the Cook landing site got swallowed by the port. The port is just in the wrong position. The whole area could be developed to be Gisborne's Wynyard Quarter and attract tourists.
The port should be moved to another location where it can grow. Logging trucks should not drive through residential areas!

Poll

  • Voting please wait...
    Your vote has been cast. Reloading page...
    Should the Peel Street Toilets building be developed or demolished?