Recognition of status for 2019 — now let’s get ready for it

EDITORIAL

News that Gisborne will host the opening ceremony for the three-week sestercentennial commemorations of the landing of Captain James Cook and his crew here is welcome and makes it essential we get it right.

The Government is allocating $3.5 million towards a commemorative voyage around New Zealand of the Endeavour replica and a fleet of waka.

Official 2019 commemorations will start here with a dawn opening ceremony that will see the waka and the Endeavour arrive in the bay with the rising of the sun, repeating something that was so successful in 1969.

An arts and culture programme will include an expanded Te Ha Award and an exhibition of artists from the Pacific Rim at Tairawhiti Museum. It is really fitting that some of those artists will be hosted at Uawa-Tolaga Bay where Cook had a successful visit after the disasters of his first landing at Turanganui-a-Kiwa/Poverty Bay.

Sestercentennial Trust manager Dr Nicky Soloman says they want the commemorations to increase understanding of indigenous history and enhance empathy between cultures, leading to improved race relations.

This requires a delicate approach. A visit here by the Endeavour replica in 1995 was opposed by Maori because of the deaths on the Waikanae foreshore and in the bay during Cook’s visit. That was resolved after a hui, but the feeling still exists.

A statue recognising the early Maori navigators to this area could help redress this and is long overdue. It is vital that Gisborne District Council gets on with the Navigations Project to make sure it is ready on time.

There are some thorny issues to be decided, including the fate of the astronomical observatory on Titirangi-Kaiti Hill, an area where it would be appropriate to recognise the Maori navigators. The inner harbour project, delayed by friction between different users, also needs to proceed soon.

But for now the main thing is the Government has recognised that commemorations must start here, the scene of the first significant meetings between Maori and Europeans. Roll on 2019.

News that Gisborne will host the opening ceremony for the three-week sestercentennial commemorations of the landing of Captain James Cook and his crew here is welcome and makes it essential we get it right.

The Government is allocating $3.5 million towards a commemorative voyage around New Zealand of the Endeavour replica and a fleet of waka.

Official 2019 commemorations will start here with a dawn opening ceremony that will see the waka and the Endeavour arrive in the bay with the rising of the sun, repeating something that was so successful in 1969.

An arts and culture programme will include an expanded Te Ha Award and an exhibition of artists from the Pacific Rim at Tairawhiti Museum. It is really fitting that some of those artists will be hosted at Uawa-Tolaga Bay where Cook had a successful visit after the disasters of his first landing at Turanganui-a-Kiwa/Poverty Bay.

Sestercentennial Trust manager Dr Nicky Soloman says they want the commemorations to increase understanding of indigenous history and enhance empathy between cultures, leading to improved race relations.

This requires a delicate approach. A visit here by the Endeavour replica in 1995 was opposed by Maori because of the deaths on the Waikanae foreshore and in the bay during Cook’s visit. That was resolved after a hui, but the feeling still exists.

A statue recognising the early Maori navigators to this area could help redress this and is long overdue. It is vital that Gisborne District Council gets on with the Navigations Project to make sure it is ready on time.

There are some thorny issues to be decided, including the fate of the astronomical observatory on Titirangi-Kaiti Hill, an area where it would be appropriate to recognise the Maori navigators. The inner harbour project, delayed by friction between different users, also needs to proceed soon.

But for now the main thing is the Government has recognised that commemorations must start here, the scene of the first significant meetings between Maori and Europeans. Roll on 2019.

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Winston Moreton - 2 years ago
The editor might have named Tupaia and Kiwa out of respect. Further, this event should not be at ratepayers' expense. The govt funds the shambles at Waitangi year after year. It should be ditched and a new Founders Day take its place in Gisborne Tairawhiti. Now that would produce visitors . . .

Travesty - 2 years ago
Can't wait to see the re-enactment of the first meeting in the middle of the junk yard, sorry wood yard.

Richard - 2 years ago
John is absolutely on the nail with his razor sharp focus on the issues that have divided the community in the past, and which should not rear their ugly heads in 2019. Equitability of recognition should be at the forefront of the leaders and opinion formers of all the communities here around Povery Bay. Unite, comrade together and do not use the occasion as a political points-scoring opportunity - be humble instead and acknowledge the merit of all historical persons and events that created the present day community of Turanganui-a-Kiwa/Poverty Bay.
And those whose remit it is to plan the commemorations, please get your act together and open the railway for passenger traffic so that hordes of folk can travel by train from Wellington to Gisborne to experience this unique occasion.

winston moreton - 2 years ago
Sir, Given the politicking around Waitangi on our official National Day why don't those on our local Te Ha 2019 planning committee use the process to come up with a more inclusive celebration. If things are left to drift the way they appear from reading this editorial, we will have placards waving outside the Eastland Group log yard instead of the many national flags the occasion warrants. I predict rain on the parade. Maybe tears, like Waitangi, if you get my drift.
Dame Shipley, chairwoman of the national co-ordinating committee for 'First Encounters 250', says the event will 'provide impetus for tourism and create opportunities for regional economic development'. With respect to our former National Prime Minister, the celebration should not be about artificially boosting the economy. The direct cost to Gisborne will outweigh the gains. It will not even break-even in money-speak; even using so-called down-stream-benefits it will not break-even. Unless the deal is re-jigged it will be charged up to that sacred electricity money-mountain ($400m) in our community trust and over-taxed Gisborne council ratepayers. The point is this is so clearly a national taxpayer thing, it should not cost locals a single cent.
More than that; the 2019 celebration should be about commemorating who we all are, where we had our origins. And, while I support a New Zealand wide celebration, the focus should be here - in Gisborne Tairawhiti at the Turanganui River Landing Site.
It should be a celebration to commemorate the navigators who founded Aotearoa - also known as Nieuw Zeeland, Nouvelle Zelande, aka Godzown. Kiwa and the other great waka captains including Tupaia and Kuuki. Add D'Urville and Abel Janszoon to that list - all deserve more than a mention. It makes it more inclusive for all Kiwi with roots in Europe and the Pacific; and for those who are still arriving. I would expect foreign ambassadors to show up. I ask here; has the French Polynesian PM been invited? I understand HRH has.
It was the navigators who founded NZ. Not those degraded parchments in the national archives which are open to subjective misinterpretation and which are now used as a means to divide. To me it seems simple - our local civic leaders and our MP Mrs Tolley should be lobbying for an annual Navigators' Day for NZ - centred on the Turanganui in Gisborne. Yes, another annual statutory holiday - but in lieu of Waitangi Day, which can go back to being a footnote in our history.

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    Do you have a better understanding of the first encounters here between Maori and Europeans after the Tuia 250 Ki Turanga commemorations?