Opportunity and responsibility

EDITORIAL

How did the rest of New Zealand mark the 249th anniversary on Monday of the nation-forming and internationally significant first meetings between Maori and Europeans here in October 1769?

In blissful ignorance, it seems.

That is, apart from those fortunate to have been listening to Nine to Noon on Radio NZ at 9.36am, when an enlightening discussion began with historians Dame Anne Salmond and Dr Wayne Ngata — our own interview with whom was The Gisborne Herald’s lead story on Monday.

They talked about reframing the conversation on first contacts to include narratives from different cultures, especially with regard to enriching this history with the actual stories of discovery. Since the Cook- and Euro-centric bicentenary of 50 years ago, so much had been learned of the planned Pacific voyaging that began about the time Egyptians were building their pyramids some 4500 years ago.

Elsewhere in national media? Nothing that your editor has heard of or could find online. And Radio NZ didn’t impress with its “today in history” segment on Monday that ran through a series of lesser historical events and famous person trivia from around the world — with no mention of the first European landings in Aotearoa and those first meetings that started so badly.

Is this why the rest of New Zealand has been ignoring the anniversary? It is certainly a much more complex history when told from the perspective of tangata whenua as well; a commemoration of first meetings rather than the celebration of Cook’s arrival that the day engendered in the past.

Another difficulty could be room for confusion over which date to mark the occasion; it has been both October 8 and 9 over the years, as ship logs then reckoned time in the astronomical manner, from midday to midday, so the accounts of the Endeavour’s officers from that afternoon record it as October 9.

The 250th anniversary next year will attract national and international attention because of the significant number. It is this region’s opportunity and responsibility to ensure our history, that will be unknown to many, is told well. Perhaps then the day will even by marked nationally in future.

How did the rest of New Zealand mark the 249th anniversary on Monday of the nation-forming and internationally significant first meetings between Maori and Europeans here in October 1769?

In blissful ignorance, it seems.

That is, apart from those fortunate to have been listening to Nine to Noon on Radio NZ at 9.36am, when an enlightening discussion began with historians Dame Anne Salmond and Dr Wayne Ngata — our own interview with whom was The Gisborne Herald’s lead story on Monday.

They talked about reframing the conversation on first contacts to include narratives from different cultures, especially with regard to enriching this history with the actual stories of discovery. Since the Cook- and Euro-centric bicentenary of 50 years ago, so much had been learned of the planned Pacific voyaging that began about the time Egyptians were building their pyramids some 4500 years ago.

Elsewhere in national media? Nothing that your editor has heard of or could find online. And Radio NZ didn’t impress with its “today in history” segment on Monday that ran through a series of lesser historical events and famous person trivia from around the world — with no mention of the first European landings in Aotearoa and those first meetings that started so badly.

Is this why the rest of New Zealand has been ignoring the anniversary? It is certainly a much more complex history when told from the perspective of tangata whenua as well; a commemoration of first meetings rather than the celebration of Cook’s arrival that the day engendered in the past.

Another difficulty could be room for confusion over which date to mark the occasion; it has been both October 8 and 9 over the years, as ship logs then reckoned time in the astronomical manner, from midday to midday, so the accounts of the Endeavour’s officers from that afternoon record it as October 9.

The 250th anniversary next year will attract national and international attention because of the significant number. It is this region’s opportunity and responsibility to ensure our history, that will be unknown to many, is told well. Perhaps then the day will even by marked nationally in future.

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Gordon Webb - 6 days ago
I know how you feel. Fewer people remember my birthday these days.

G.Gaham, Helena Bay - 6 days ago
Nice story, my only issue with it is that the crew of the Endeavour were royal navy, plus people from tahiti, i think, so therefore they were not Europeans. They were mainly English and even now England or Great Britain is not physically part of the continent of Europe, nor do the people of the UK generally consider themselves as Europeans.
Personally I am a Scot and do not consider myself to be European, bear in mind that this is like calling New Zealanders/Maori Australians, as these islands are off the coast of Australia. I am sure that all Kiwis, Maori and Caucasians, would take offence to be called Aussies, or Pacific islanders for that matter.
I am being a bit tongue in cheek here but in this age of political correctness maybe non-Maori should be referred to not as Europeans, unless they are from the continent of Europe, but just as New Zealanders. Imagine if a person from a Carribean, Indian or Chinese heritage came here from years of living in the UK was referred to as a European. I think rightly they might be a bit miffed to be classified as something they are not, just as Maori would be upset if they were called Australian, Samoan or even Antarctican just because these lands are near by.
As I say, this is all a bit tongue in cheek but I am sure I am not the only Caucasian living in NZ who does not identify as European and gets a bit annoyed when we are referred to as such.

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