Replica Cook Endeavor ships back on the table

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

The Gisborne District Council is looking to review its decision to progress the installation of two Cook Endeavour replica ships without consulting the public or local iwi after public backlash, although a decision to consult is yet to be made.

“I recognise that this is a significant matter for our community and that this decision was made without offering the community the chance to express their views more fully", says Gisborne District Council Mayor Rehette Stoltz.

The new Endeavour replica ships have already been built and will stand the test of time, being built from aluminium. Wooden replica ships (pictured) were installed on Gladstone Rd 46 years ago but were taken down due to safety concerns. 

The council had made a commitment to a fundraising group orchestrated by former Gisborne District Councilor Malcolm MacLean in 2018 who wanted to replace the ships. The fundraiser had 34 donors and raised $11,500, while the fundraising page states that an anonymous donor gave $10,000.

The Council has already spent $9,000 on engineering advice and has committed $19,000 to the instal. 

In 2019,  the Ministry of Culture and Heritage's $20m national commemoration for the arrival of Captain Cook and the Endeavour to Aotearoa in 1769, Tuia250, exposed unresolved conflict. 

Local mana whenua decided not to offer the Endeavour replica sailing ship from Australia a formal welcome, and over 1000 people signed an online petition objecting its arrival. 

Nine Māori were shot and killed by Captain Cook and the Endeavour crew over the three days that they were in the area. Since then, at least five significant monuments to Captain Cook and the Endeavour have been installed in the area without consultation with Tangata Whenua.

"As a Council, we can do better which is why I am discussing with councillors how we can involve our community in these sensitive discussions," says Stoltz.

On Thursday, the council voted 11 to 3 for the option that, “May not meet the expectations of the wider community and Tairāwhiti Tangata Whenua, based on previously received negative feedback about the replicas and their historical significance to the Tairāwhiti region.”

Following the decision, Ngāti Oneone artist and historian Nick Tupara told Te Ao, "I have to question the process, on the way that we represent ourselves in 2020 and whether or not these images are the sort of images we need to encourage the growth and connectedness of our community today. I feel there hasn’t been sufficient discussion as a community to determine what images fit us and what images are just arriving and are getting imposed on us, and I have to question the appropriateness of that."

Rehette Stoltz says, "Sometimes we don’t get things right but what is important is that when we do, we listen, we discuss and we act."

The council will deliberate the topic tomorrow morning.