'Speaking to New Zealand'
The local and national response to Saturday’s emotional Tuia 250 pohiri should make Gisborne’s Puhi Kai Iti Cook Landing Site the first stop, ahead of the Waitangi Treaty grounds, for all New Zealanders, says former Prime Minister Dame Jenny Shipley.
“I thought yesterday (Saturday) was extremely important,” Dame Jenny said.
“The images of a very united Turanga, Rongowhakaata and Ngati Oneone presiding over an incredibly impressive pohiri, that’s really special.
“They are so much more recognised than they were two or three years ago.”
Dame Jenny, the co-chair for Tuia 250 national commemorations, said she could see a “huge change” around the Tuia commemorations and Gisborne itself.
“But Tuia in Gisborne is now speaking to New Zealand and what happened yesterday, while this mattered at home, it also spoke to our country.
“We have to look at dual heritage and Gisborne has led the way.
“It’s not been easy for some people, trusting each other and making space for these stories to be told properly. That happened yesterday, and so that’s made a big difference, and I think that’s rippling out.”
The pohiri and arrival of the Tuia 250 Pacific voyaging flotilla were covered live on national television.
“I’ve had many New Zealanders message me this morning and say these are stories I have not heard before and feel these stories are more about us than many of our other stories.
“This message is getting out, and it is three months (long) remember, it’s not one day. Gisborne has launched a very focal point part of a story that will keep moving in many directions over the next three months.”
Dame Jenny said during regular trips to Gisborne over the past three years, she had seen “tears and mistrust” replaced with “courageous conversations”.
Gisborne 'leading the way'The dual heritage theme was shown in Gisborne with Ngati Oneone’s Te Maro sculpture on Titirangi and at the Puhi Kai Iti Cook Landing Site National Historic Reserve.
“When I first visited there, there was just the plinth, and it only spoke to Cook and the Endeavour. Today it speaks to the great fleets that arrived and Cook’s arrival. It is a dual heritage site now, not a single-event site and Gisborne has led the way in addressing the gaps.
“But also, they are beautiful,” Dame Jenny said.
“I would recommend every New Zealander to come to Gisborne before they go to Waitangi. They should go to both, because Gisborne tells you the reality of the beginning.
“Maori were very settled here, up this coast, in great depth and very successfully for hundreds of years coming and going. Pakeha arrived and it was very dramatic and an unhappy experience here. But at Tolaga Bay, a very happy experience.
“So, the Coast can speak about all of those experiences and I think there is a lot to be learned about who we are as New Zealanders by coming to Gisborne before you go to the Treaty grounds and the Treaty itself, where we had to work out now we were together, how we would live and work.”
Visiting Gisborne and then Waitangi would give New Zealanders the “whole story”.
“Gisborne has a leadership role here.”
While Tuia meant “bound together and united” it did not mean being the same.
“We need to respect our differences and then find a joint purpose as New Zealanders as how to move forward. Tuia is really a starting point at this time in history where we can think more carefully about these things and plan for a future.
“I hope Gisborne and Turanganui-a-Kiwa will keep building on this dual heritage. It’s not one or the other, it’s seeing the story is balanced and accessible. I think Gisborne is leading the way and I think your Mayor and former Mayor, as well as Gisborne District Council have done a great job in getting us to this point.”