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Ship represents systemic issues protesters claim

A peaceful but noisy protest at Te Waiohiharore (The Cut) greeted the Endeavour replica yesterday.

The HMB Endeavour, along with the Spirit of New Zealand and the R. Tucker Thompson arrived in Turanganui-a-Kiwa Poverty Bay early yesterday morning and was joined by the rest of the Tuia 250 flotilla.

When the tall ships came into the harbour about 50 protesters started chanting “kawhawhai tonu matou, ake, ake, ake” (we will fight on forever and ever) and “evil ship, evil captain”.

People who were there to watch the flotilla started clapping and cheering for the ships in response to the protesters.

Many protesters waved tino rangatiratanga and the united tribes of New Zealand flags and some burned Union Jack flags.

When the boats entered the inner harbour protesters started walking along Oneroa walkway yelling at the boats to “turn around, you’re not welcome here.”

Once the Endeavour berthed the protesters gathered at Watties Wharf where they held a series of korero about the impacts of colonialism.

While Sharon Campbell spoke, a man in the crowd tried to grab the microphone out of her hand and said this was “bullsh*t” and brought up the Moriori.

She responded by calling the man a “white supremacist terrorist.”

He was escorted from the area by security.

“We are here to protest against the berthing of the Endeavour,” protest organiser Marise Lant said.

“This protest is about colonisation.We didn’t want the Endeavour berthing here and the Government continues to ignore our rights as Maori to oppose a symbol that represents every systemic issue we are facing today and even 250 years ago.

“It’s been 250 years and what have we got from this?

“The people that have come here to support our protest, it’s not just because we are protesting but because of the issues we are protesting on.

“Suicide, methamphetamine, child uplifts, injustices that have been done to Maori and the wider community.

“What affects Maori affects everybody.

“We hope to get a clear indication from the New Zealand Government and the British Government in acknowledging their wrongs in a genuine way. As opposed to what happened when the High Commissioner came to Gisborne and offered something short of what we would call an apology,” Ms Lant said.

“I hope that this evil ship and its evil captain are not funded and does not return to New Zealand, because it’s a symbol of terrorism for Maori and those they murdered on arrival as well as the successive generations who have been impacted by the historical trauma,” protester Sharon Campbell said.

Gisborne resident Toni Hepa came to see the protest and the flotilla.

“I’m here for my kids, they asked me come down and have a look at it all because it’s a part of their whakapapa.

“I don’t think there will be a specific outcome from this protest, if anything the people’s voice about how they feel will be heard,” he said.

After the civic ceremony about 20 protesters from the Resist250 group went to the Bushmere Arms at Waerenga a Hika to protest the Endeavour and other crews having lunch there.

“What they did here at Waerenga a Hika is the constabulary surrounded our village and then just walked in and started shooting everyone.

“Now they want to bring the Endeavour here for tea,” protester Karen Pewhairangi (Ngati Hika) said.

“When I found out they were having a meal down here that really pissed me off, ‘cause my tipuna died just there,” said another protester.

CONFLICT: A member of the public was escorted from the scene by security staff yesterday after he tried to grab a microphone from protester Sharon Campbell. Picture by Paul Rickard