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Cook 250 commemorations - national brand revealed - along with what is being planned for 2019.

21 February 2018

The 250th anniversary in November 2019 to commemorate Captain Cook's arrival in New Zealand has now been given the Maori name Tuia, meaning to weave together, symbolising bringing people together in unity.

During Cook’s visit, he and his crew went ashore in Gisborne, Mercury Bay, the Bay of Islands and the Marlborough Sounds. To help coordinate Tuia commemoration activities, Trusts have been established in each of these four regions. In our region we have the Mercury 250 Anniversary Trust, made up of representatives from the community, iwi, heritage and education sectors.

On a national level, the Ministry of Education is involved in the planning for the Tuia commemoration, with representatives from the Ministry in Whitianga this week to discuss how the commemoration, and the first encounters theme of the commemoration, can be incorporated in the national school curriculum.

“Tuia is a big national event,” says Paul Kelly, chairman of the Mercury Bay Community Board and a trustee of the Mercury 250 Anniversary Trust. “The goal will be for school students in Invercargill through to Kaitaia to know as much about Cook’s 12 days in Mercury Bay as school students in Whitianga.

Central government has signalled it will allocate some funding to our region for legacy projects, which the Trust is working on providing details on.

"At this stage we are still working through possible proposals and investigating options to fit the criteria for government funding," says Mr Kelly. "But some concepts we're looking at include public art installations, heritage trails, signage and commemorative pieces that represent this founding event in our history, which also celebrate the inspiring Pacific and European traditions that our nation has emerged from."

Iwi involvement is also paramount in Tuia commemorations. Cook spent 12 days in Mercury Bay, with this visit being significant because it was the first time Europeans (“pakeha”) developed some understanding of the way local iwi (Ngati Hei) lived. It was also the first time Europeans were invited and welcomed onto a pa with a karanga (an exchange of calls that forms part of a powhiri).

Joe Davis, from Ngati Hei is on the Mercury Bay Anniversary 250 Trust and is instrumental in working on several Tuia projects, one of which is a powhiri at Wharekaho (Simpsons Beach) when the replica of the HM Endeavour, Cook's ship, arrives in Mercury Bay in October next year.

The ship is based at the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney but will visit all four of the Cook landing sites, as well as Auckland. The current schedule has the Endeavour in Mercury Bay for at least four days, with the possibility of it stopping over at Waiomu on the west coast of the Coromandel on its way to Auckland.

Cook anchored off Waiomu five days after leaving Mercury Bay and rowed with members of his crew up the Waihou River. They landed at a Maori village not far from Netherton, where they were welcomed with open arms.

For the rest of its visit to the Coromandel, the ship will be berthed at the Whitianga Wharf, for the public to visit, with the Whitianga harbourmaster, the Whitianga Coastguard, the Mercury Bay Boating Club and the Whitianga Sea Scouts all keen to make the visit as memorable as possible.

It’s expected that the Whitianga town centre upgrade, with the theme of Polynesian and European explorers, will be completed by the time of the Endeavour's visit, and a display in the Mercury Bay Museum with the same theme is also expected to be open to the public by that time.

The Mercury 250 Anniversary Trust anticipate Tuia commemoration activities in Mercury Bay will kick off from September 2019 before the replica Endeavour’s visit and will continue until the end of summer 2020.

"Neither The Trust, nor the Thames-Coromandel District Council, have funding to organise Tuia events, but we have been in discussion with several national organisations that have already indicated to us that they would like to host or become involved in local events forming part of the commemoration," says Mr Kelly.  "So from that perspective we can help facilitate and coordinate opportunities for local community groups, volunteer organisations and sports clubs to organise their own events and tournaments. Once they’ve decided what they would like to do, please let us know so that we can see how we can help them."

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