Tuia 250 welcomed to Māhia in style with kaimoana, waiata and waka tours

By Jessica Tyson

The Tuia 250 flotilla was welcomed in style to the final stop of a two and half month long voyage at Māhia Peninsula today by local iwi Rongomaiwahine.

As part of the festival Tuia Mai Tawhiti, Rongomaiwahine treated manuhiri, who had taken part in the voyage, by preparing an abundance of kaimoana such as kina and mussel fritters to eat on arrival, as well as live music and tours of all waka for tamariki and whānau in Te Māhia.

The three waka hourua from the flotilla, Haunui, Ngahiraka Mai Tawhiti and Fa'afaite, were joined by the waka Tairāwhiti from Gisborne and Te Matau-a-Māui from Napier.

Richard Katipa of Tairāwhiti was on board the waka today, which left from Gisborne on Saturday to make the event.

"We came here to support the event and celebrate the ancestors who came on waka before us," Katipa says.

Te Māhia was the landing site for the ancestral waka Kurahaupō, Tākitimu and Aotea.

“I’m also a descendant of Rongomaiwahine and, therefore, of the waka Kurahoupō. So this is a great honour,” Katipa says.

Kaumatua Kenross Campbell of Rongomaiwahine says it used to be a whaling area where tīpuna would sit at the lookout at Tirotirokauika to watch the whales swim into the bay.

"It used to have a pā site on top and they used to watch for the whales because they could see them a long way out, he says.

“So this here, for the ones that are growing up that I've taught all the history of this Māhia area this is brilliant.”

Rongomaiwahine Trust chair Moana Rongo says, “It’s our ūkaipō and that’s why we love it so much. But again, it's nice that we're bringing it here today and people get a little snapshot of our little world but more importantly making those connections outside. That’s why today is only a start of something that we see.”

Even though it is the final stop for the voyage, Tuia 250 has created experiences for thousands of people throughout the journey around Aotearoa.

Tarryn Reid is one of them who has sailed multiple times on Tairāwhiti as part of the voyage.

“We left yesterday morning just coming from Tairāwhiti. We hadn’t even left the bay yet and we were reeling in the fish, she says.

“The sun came out, the water was beautiful and the amount of dolphins that we had...We just had a whole flock of dolphins just watching. So that was beautiful and that was us, kina city,” Reid says.

On Tuesday, the closing ceremony for Tuia 250 will take place at Tuahuru Marae in Māhia, with special guests including Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.