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Local school inspires tradition for Tuia Encounters 250 commemorations

02 May 2018

Preparations for next year's Tuia Encounters 250 commemorations are coming together here on the Coromandel, and Mercury Bay Area School is helping inspire others to tell the stories of our rich local heritage around the event.

Across the country, a range of events are being planned to mark 250 years since the first meetings between Maori and Europeans during Captain James Cook and the Endeavour's 1769 voyage to Aotearoa, New Zealand.

Our region was one of the four main landing sites for Cook during that voyage and the Mercury 250 Trust has been formed to bring together individuals and groups willing to have input into Tuia commemorations for our region.

On the education front - the Ministry of Education has set a goal for every school student from Invercargill through to Kaitaia to know as much as possible about Cook’s 1769 voyage and the people and events that shaped New Zealand.

Mercury 250 Trustee and Mercury Bay Area School Principal John Wright is crafting a local school curriculum to embed the importance of reaching back to and beyond 1769 to help meet the challenges our communities face today.

The school has developed the 'Ahuahu Context' a paper representing the thinking about what could be in the local curriculum.

Much of the thinking has been inspired by the Ahuahu (Great Mercury Island) project in our own backyard, which saw the island become predator-free.

”The project has grown towards a platform that could be useful in terms of local curriculum planning that recognises the history of Aotearoa and engages in the local 'issues' we are facing right now, and which could be used to consider how things could be for our community into the future," Mr Wright says.

Tuia 250 commemorations are a perfect platform for local schools to consider our rich local stories.

"Tuia 250 is a commemoration of national significance, recognising a time when two nations first made significant contact – that is, between our indigenous Māori and the exploring Europeansin 1769.

"Of remarkable note is that Cook spent several days in Te Whanganui-a-Hei (Mercury Bay) and received the first formal powhiri or welcome of any European in Aotearoa/New Zealand by our local iwi –Ngati Hei, at Wharekaho," he says.

"Such richness exist everywhere in our nation and it is our role as educators to lift these remarkable events and learnings that have shaped our nation, to the fore."

If any schools within the area are interested in finding out more about the work being done at Mercury Bay School they are encouraged to get in touch with Mr Wright:

The Mercury Bay 250 Trust invites anyone interested in being involved in commemoration events in our district, which include public art installations, heritage trails, signage and commemorative pieces, to get in touch. Email:

More details on Tuia Encounters 250 for the Mercury Bay area of the Coromandel can be found here.