Gisborne iwi receive expression of regret from UK Govt

By Jessica Tyson, Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

A formal expression of regret has been made today to Gisborne iwi for the deaths of their ancestors when Lieutenant James Cook and the Endeavour landed in 1769.

Iwi including Rongowhakaata, Ngāi Tāmanuhiri, Te Aitanga a-Māhaki and Ngāti Oneone received the expression from the British High Commissioner Laura Clarke at Te Poho o Rawiri and Whakato marae.

The expression acknowledged the murder of nine Māori from Turanganui-a-Kiwa during Cook’s arrival 250 years ago.

Captain Cook statue relocated

The expression of regret comes after the removal of a Captain Cook statue from the top of the ancestral mountain, Titirangi.

Speaking on behalf of local iwi Ngāti Oneone, Barney Tupara said, “It was a long fight for the elders in earlier times who would stand in community meetings to condemn the statue standing on this mountain".

Known by many as the Cook Plaza, the bicentennial commemorative statue and wall have been opposed by local iwi since their inception in 1969. 

They say it disrespected their ancestors who were killed by Captain Cook on his arrival.

“Although we are happy at the moment, this statue represents the pain and hurt that is still being felt by many tribes of Tūranga and the wider East Coast," says Tupara. 

The statue has been subject to vandalism in recent years, sparking debate around its standing place on Tirirangi. 

More to come.