29 Nov 2019

Endeavour 'not welcome in our harbour' - Taranaki whānui descendants

6:10 pm on 29 November 2019

A Wellington iwi group is sending a warning to the Endeavour it is not welcome.

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The replica Endeavour arriving in Wellington. Photo: Ministry of Culture and Heritage / Supplied

Mau whenua, who are made up of descendants of Taranaki Whānui, have lit fires along Miramar peninsula, as the ship makes its way into the Wellington Harbour.

Wellington is the last stop for the replica of British explorer James Cook's ship, as part of the Tuia 250 commemorations.

Mau whenua spokesperson Anaru Mepham has been standing on a old pā site, Mahanga, on the peninsula, with the home fires, or ahi kā, burning, to symbolise that the land is already occupied by tangata whenua.

"Māori would have stood here and watched the Endeavour sail around the mouth of the harbour - he didn't come in, Cook didn't come into the harbour - and they would've been quite concerned at that point, because they would've heard the stories that had come down the island and they would've been very aware of the threat that was posed to them by this ship."

Mr Mepham said that the smoke from the fire also sends a warning; "The Endeavour is not welcome in our harbour".

He said that the Tuia 250 organisers did not ask for permission from mana whenua to allow the Endeavour to come into Wellington Harbour.

"This is actually what happened 250 years ago, and it's just a continuation of the arrogance of the Crown, and we're challenging that arrogance with a symbolic statement of lighting our fires, our ahi kā, on our old pā sites."

Fires have also been lit at O-Rua Iti Pā, and Rangitatau Pā.

Manatū Taonga (Ministry for Culture and Heritage) deputy chief executive Tuia 250 Tamsin Evans said they were in conversation with mana whenua representatives before the final decision to include Wellington on the voyage schedule was made.

"We have now reached a place where local iwi have chosen to welcome the flotilla crews in the spirit of Tuia, which is about acknowledging the past that binds us, and looking to our shared future."

She said the Tuia 250 commemorations encourage honest conversations about New Zealand history, and she respects the position of the Mau Whenua group.

The Endeavour is set to berth at Queens Wharf at 3pm this afternoon, followed by the waka at 4pm.

A pōwhiri will be held tomorrow morning at 7.30am, followed by a civic ceremony hosted by the Mayor.

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