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Gisborne first in 2019

GISBORNE, where explorer Lieutenant James Cook landed first in 1769, has been confirmed by the Government as the location of a national opening ceremony in October 2019 to launch First Encounters 250, the commemoration to mark the 250th anniversary of the first encounters between Maori and Europeans.

Mayor Meng Foon and Te Ha 1769 Sestercentennial Trust chairman Richard Brooking have extended an invitation to Prince Charles, and/or other members of the Royal Family to attend the national opening ceremony.

The replica Endeavour will visit Gisborne and and other main sites Cook visited in 1769.

Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Maggie Barry has allocated $3.5 million towards a commemorative voyage around New Zealand by a flotilla, including Endeavour and voyaging waka and vaka from the Pacific.

The last visit of the replica Endeavour to Gisborne in 2005 led to protests.

Mr Foon and Mr Brooking have welcomed the funding and confirmation of Gisborne’s prominent role in the 2019 nationwide commemoration, which will be held over three weeks.

Mr Brooking said Te Ha 1769 Sestercentennial Trust planning to date had identified key elements for the Tairawhiti commemorations, including:

A dawn opening ceremony, during which waka, vaka and the Endeavour replica will arrive in the bay, with the rising of the sun. There will be a powhiri with whaikorero and waiata, and a ceremonial exchange of taonga.An arts and culture festival programme. Planning has begun and it will include an expanded Te Ha Art Award. “We are working on the art programme for October 2017 currently, as we see community-led art and culture initiatives as central to our commemorations, and to be one of the key legacy projects for the trust.”

In 2019, Tairawhiti Museum will host an exhibition of artists from the Pacific Rim. In parallel with the exhibition, a gathering of those artists would be hosted in Uawa/Tolaga Bay by Toi Hauiti (of Te Aitanga a Hauiti), both events managed by local designers Tai and Kaaterina Kerekere.Symposiums and lectures including a Sustainable Oceans Conference the trust plans to organise, hopefully in collaboration with The Royal Society.A strong focus on the art and science of Pacific and European voyaging and navigation, including wananga and symposia.Mr Brooking said the Gisborne opening ceremony would be the beginning of a nationwide commemorative programme, which would flow from Gisborne to other landing sites (Uawa and Anaura Bay, Mercury Bay, Bay of Islands and Marlborough).

“We understand that there may also be events in Tauranga and Auckland. It is important to note that the national opening ceremony will be unique to Gisborne.”

Trustees have been working hard to develop and maintain relationships with Ms Barry, who visited Gisborne last year.

“The Ministry has embraced and responded to the landing-site trust’s vision for the commemorations and the importance of focusing on commemorating the first meetings between tangata whenua and those on board the Endeavour, and we are all looking forward to making great progress together during 2017.”

Jenny Shipley, chairwoman of the national co-ordinating committee for First Encounters 250, said the event would provide impetus for tourism and create opportunities for regional economic development.

Mr Brooking agreed and said the commemorations could contribute to regional development on many levels.

“From the obvious, in terms of visitors to the regions, through to the more poignant outcomes of appropriately- planned and managed commemorations, which could achieve the following:

Increased understanding of indigenous history and enhanced empathy between cultures, leading to improved race relations.Awareness of the stories of the first encounters between Maori and those on board the Endeavour; what went wrong and what went right and the learnings that can be applied to our interactions todayImproved understanding of and respect for the sophistication of the Polynesian voyaging traditions that resulted in the original settlement of Aotearoa and a consequent uplifting of the mana of MaoriThe potential to redress some of the still poignantly-felt hurt of the past in regions where the indigenous voice has struggled to be heard, and to create a place of integrity from which we could truly honour our dual heritage and create our shared future.“We understand that First Encounters 250 is a working title for the national co-ordinating committee.

“The Ministry for Culture and Heritage is working on branding and naming for the commemorations and we expect to have more information about the official name for the commemorations in the first quarter of this year.

“The trust is happy with First Encounters 250 as a working title, but we’re very much looking forward to a decision being made with regard to branding and naming for the commemorations, and have an expectation that the final brand and name will incorporate both te reo and Maori design.

“We are happy with the state of play, although time is racing by. The trust has achieved a great deal with a huge amount of voluntary effort on behalf of trustees, given scant resourcing and a huge vision. We are really excited about all of the community-led initiatives that are under way and are looking forward to continuing to support our community in crafting a commemorative programme appropriate to Tairawhiti.’’

Mr Foon said the trust had worked hard to ensure that Tairawhiti’s voice was heard at the local and national levels of central government.

“The council will continue to support with funding as indicated in the long-term plan."

Work had started on infrastructure required for the “Navigation concept” and the inner harbour would be next.

“We all look forward to acknowledging our nationhood, where our relationship from the first meeting started."

ENDEAVOUR: A replica of James Cook’s Endeavour ship (pictured) will sail into Gisborne this October to mark the 250th anniversary since the first meetings here between tangata whenua and Europeans in 1769. The replica ship will be included in a flotilla of other historical tall ships and waka on a voyage around New Zealand, as part of the Tuia 250 events. File picture by Paul Rickard