Iwi in Tūranganui a Kiwa will lay down a formal challenge to the replica Endeavour ship when it arrives for Tuia 250 to mark 250 years since the first encounters between Māori and Pākehā. Te Kura o Tūranga are demanding an official apology for the deaths of Māori at the hands of Captain Cook and the Endeavour crew.
“Come in a noble manner, put forward an apology to the descendants of who were killed at that time. However, if they just come heedlessly, yes we will conduct our traditional challenges, but we will not agree to guide this group in a noble manner on to the lands of Tūranganui a Kiwa,” says Joe Pihema.
Speaking on behalf of Te Kura o Tūranga, the local welcoming party, Pihema of Ngāti Whātua says an apology will not heal the deep wounds still felt by descendants, but it would be a start.
“It would be a positive start, where we and the Pākehā groups can work together and find a pathway forward for the descendants of those who were killed by Cook and his crew.”
Te Kura o Tūranga, the school of traditional Māori weaponry based in Tūranganui a Kiwa (Gisborne), is educating a new generation in the ways handed down through the generations, with origins in the Māori deity Tūmatauenga.
The three branches of the school are comprised of members from Rongowhakaata, Ngāi Tāmanuhiri and Te Aitanga a Mahaki.
Pihema is a spokesperson for Waihirere, who represent the Te Aitanga a Mahaki branch. It is estimated that over 60 practitioners in total will take part in the official pōwhiri in October.
Pihema says those who wish to protest the Tuia 250 commemorations need to do so under the authority of tangata whenua and through Māori protocol.
“Through haka, wero and tangi, they may see the pain, the remorse within the people, within their souls, and so if you want to protest, come and protest, but do it in the protocol of Māori through haka, wero and tangi."
Three double-hull waka will arrive as part of the Tuia 250 flotilla, including va’a moana Fa’afaite o te ao Maohi which is currently on its way from Tahiti.
Pihema says that recognising and celebrating the 1,000 years of Māori ocean voyaging culture is long overdue.
“Our ancestors who came from beyond the horizon, what an amazing feat. Those on their way now from Tahiti, we will welcome with the respect of one noble race to another, from tribe to tribe, from relative to relative.”
In a statement to Te Ao, the Ministry of Culture and Heritage says, "We respect the views of this group. Iwi are taking the lead on the pohiri on the day the Endeavour will arrive in Tūranga."
Pihema says, “So to you Pākehā, who sit at the tables and boards of authority, you know what we want, make the apology, say the words and show love.
“The main thing is for an apology to be made to the descendants of those who were shot by Cook and his crew, that's our position. Come in a noble manner, put forward an apology to the descendants of who were killed at that time.”
The replica Endeavour is due to arrive in Tūranganui a Kiwa on the 11th of October.