Community to protest Endeavour replica monuments

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

Tairāwhiti whānau will lead a peaceful protest outside the Gisborne District Council headquarters on Wednesday in response to the council's recent decision to install two new replicas of Captain James Cook's ship Endeavour in the city without iwi consultation.

The council said last week that it would revoke its decision this Wednesday at an extraordinary operations committee meeting.

Councillors have seen a major backlash since voting 11-3 in favour of the replica's installation without seeking public consultation.

Mayor Rehette Stoltz admitted afterwards that they "got it wrong" and should seek public feedback, particularly from iwi.

In response, a collective of like-minded Tairāwhiti whānau will lead a peaceful protest kaupapa, known as Haerenga Awatea, over their disappointment with the council's decision-making process, and to also reaffirm a position they believe has been held by tangata whenua for over 250 years, that the Endeavour and all symbolism relating to it, is not welcome in Tūranganui-a-Kiwa.

The collective is disappointed by comments made by councillors at the initial meeting that there was no need to consult with tangata whenua.

"We will peacefully protest and reiterate the council's responsibility to provide the opportunity for tangata whenua engagement in meaningful decision-making," Aubrey Ria of the Haerenga Awatea kaupapa said.

"We expect that this not only would be for the location of the replicas but whether they are installed at all."

The Endeavour replicas symbolised the arrival of imperialism and colonialism in Tūranganui-a-Kiwa and Aotearoa, said Kaaterina Kerekere, who is also part of the kaupapa.

"We shouldn't have to be reminded of the impacts and the trauma of this vessel."

The peaceful protest will be held on Wednesday morning, June 10 at the Gisborne District Council, beginning with karakia at 7:30am.

Tohutohu or guidelines for the protest have been laid out, which are; Kia Mataara - Be Alert, Mauri Tau - Be calm, Whakaute - Be Respectful, and to also observe social distancing due to Covid-19.

The rōpū asked that all participants dress in black as the Endeavour represented hurt and grief for tangata whenua.

The protest kaupapa Haerenga Awatea is a reference to when two tribes are at war but allow peaceful travel between each other. 

The group leading the kaupapa is a collective of young, passionate Tairāwhiti whānau.

"Our aim is to raise political awareness amongst our age-group and our teina, while we still have the guidance and support of our pakeke," Ria said.

"When we are together as one, we are stronger, and we have a bigger voice. Tū Tapatahi, Tūranga Tangata Rite!"