"We need to be better Treaty partners. We will learn from this" - Gisborne Mayor

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

Gisborne District Council is opening up consultation with iwi and the public on the location of two new Captain Cook Endeavour replica monuments. While the decision will allow discussion on the location of the monuments, whether or not the monuments are installed, at this stage, is not open for debate.

“We need to be better Treaty partners. We will learn from this. We will make sure we check-in. I have regular meetings with Iwi Chairs, and we can do better and I want us to do better," says Gisborne District Council Mayor Rehette Stoltz. 

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

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.

On Thursday 28 May, 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.”

Gisborne District Council held an Extraordinary Operations Committee Meeting today on the decision made last week on the reinstatement of the Endeavour replicas.

“I want to assure our community that we will learn from this. We will make sure we get the input and that we act like partners, we don’t just check in every now and then when we want to do something, that we act like better partners in this process," says Stoltz. 

A notice of motion has been received to rescind the resolution of the Committee on 28 May to install the replicas on Gladstone Road without consultation.

“I do want to give that commitment going forward that we do want to have a real partnership,” says Stoltz.

Council will be going through that process said to take a few days with a view to rescind the decision and consult on the placement of the replicas.