Latest News & Public Notices

Tuia 250 commemorations kick off in the Coromandel this week

16 October 2019

We are days away from celebrating the Tuia 250 commemorations, a national programme of events and education being expressed through music, storytelling, kapa haka, arts, and other cultural activities, around the country, as well as on the Coromandel.

There are a number of events happening in our district to commemorate and recognise the connections made by Māori communities Ngāti Hei with Captain Cook and his crew upon their arrival in Mercury Bay in 1769. In three days’ time we will see the  arrival of the Tuia 250 Flotilla into Mercury Bay. This marks a journey of national significance showcasing the Pacific, Māori and European voyaging that brought us together. (see below for the itinerary). Ko te Rangatahi o te Tara - Kapa Haka has been postponed to Wednesday 16 October. 

At 7.30am on Friday 18 October, the Tuia 250 Flotilla will enter Te Whanganui o Hei (Mercury Bay). The Flotilla is made up of six vessels, that will approach Mercury Bay in formation, with the HMB Endeavour (the replica of the original Endeavour) and Fa'afaite Va'a peeling off from the Flotilla and heading to Purangi/Cooks Beach where they will hold position for an hour during the Cooks Beach, "Beach Call", where the public are welcome to come down to the beach at the Central Reserve to watch the Endeavour and Fa'afaite Va'a sail past.

The balance of the Flotilla will sweep along Mercury Bay and head to the north end of Wharekaho (Simpsons) Beach, to begin  anchoring. Crews from the vessels will assemble on the foreshore and at 11.30am the manuhiri (voyagers, community members, dignitaries, visitors to the area), will gather at the north end of the beach and begin the1.2km hīkoi. Members of the general public are welcome to join the hīkoi, however, participation in the official Pōwhiri is restricted to guests who have registered prior to this sold out event. In the afternoon, hāngī will be served followed by entertainment including kapa haka performances.

Te Pōwhiri is to acknowledge and commemorate the first amicable encounter between local iwi Ngāti Hei and Captain James Cook and the Endeavour crew 250 years ago in Mercury Bay on the Coromandel. The pōwhiri, a central part of Māori protocol, is a ceremony of welcome involving speeches, dancing, singing and hongi.

If you are planning to attend any of the events make sure you read the safety tips and key messages seen below.

Go Kiwi Shuttles will be providing extra services for Te Pōwhiri - Tuia 250 commemorations

Go Kiwi are delighted to announce some extra services for Te Powhiri, Tuia 250 commemorations from Kuaotunu to Whitianga via Wharekaho - and sponsored by Go Kiwi with the support of NZTA and our Council. This service is free of charge. See below for the full schedule.

Friday 18th and Saturday 19th October services as below

  • 7:30am Kuaotunu to Whitianga via Wharekaho
  • 8:30am Kuaotunu to Whitianga via Wharekaho
  • 11:00am Kuaotunu to Whitianga via Wharekaho
  • 11:30am Whitianga to Kuaotunu via Wharekaho
  • 12pm Kuaotunu to Whitianga via Wharekah0
  • 2:30pm Whitianga to Kuaotunu via Wharekaho
  • 4:30pm Whitianga to Kuaotunu via Wharekaho
  • 5:30pm Whitianga to Kuaotunu via Wharekaho

The pick up drop off point at Wharekaho will be at the Simpsons Campground.

Check out performances at the Tuia Stage in Whitianga over the weekend

On Saturday 19 October the spotlight will turn to the Tuia Stage, located at Whakau Reserve (Taylor’s Mistake) in Whitianga. This is an epic 12-hour, free cultural showcase featuring the very best that the Coromandel has to offer in local talent - musicians, poets, composers and performers. Artists have been invited to choose existing compositions of music, poetry or stories - or to create new ones - which reflect their expressions (their lived experiences) of the kaupapa of Tuia – Encounters 250.

The 12 Coromandel Weavers Collective will also feature their contemporary installation - Star Waka - and demonstrate their talents next to the Tuia stage. This project acknowledges the past, present and future voyaging to and from Aotearoa in all directions, with the stars reflecting navigation patterns over time and space.

An art exhibition of both local artists’ works and a touring exhibition is being installed in the Art Station – which is the Old Fire Brigade Building in Whitianga.

This family-friendly cultural extravaganza from 19 and 20 October in Whakau Reserve is all free, thanks to grants from Lottery Tuia 250 Programme and, in the case of the Art Station exhibition, a generous benefactor.

For more information on the events celebrating the Tuia 250 commemorations visit

Ngārti exhibition

Three exhibitions are being presented by newly-formed art group Ngārti in the pop up gallery space ArtStation, formerly the Whitianga Fire Station on Monk Street.

Open 15 – 28 October from 10am-6pm, the gallery will feature the debut exhibition of Wharekaho artist Peter Matai Johnston (Ngati Hei), a touring exhibition curated by Tairawhiti Museum, Gisborne, and a collaborative exhibition with over 20 local artists including Michael Smither.

Entry to ArtStation will be from Whakau Reserve (Taylors Mistake) and will be open during the Tuia 250 Stage event on Saturday 19 October.

For more information please contact Isabel Gilbert Palmer

Heritage at Cooks Beach 

(The stone cairn reinstated at Cooks Beach)

The memorial stone cairn, which marks Cook’s arrival to Mercury Bay, is now in place at Purangi Reserve in Cooks Beach. The new site includes a path and board walk, heritage signage as well as a platform with a view to a buoy that marks where Cook's ship The Endeavour was moored 250 years ago, this year. The surrounding area is being planted with coastal natives.

The commemorations for the return of the cairn to Cooks Beach is on Sunday 20 October at 11am at the Purangi Reserve. The cairn is an important asset for the community and anyone from the public can attend.

Other events celebrating the Tuia 250 Commemorations at Cooks Beach 

Friday 18 October 

Beach Call

On Friday 18 October the public are welcome to come down to the beach at the Central Reserve to watch the Endeavour and Fa'afaite Va'a sail past.

Conversations at the Cooks Beach Hall

Conversations will be held at the Cooks Beach Hall from 7:30pm - 9pm. Special guest, author/historian Graeme Lay and Joe Davis, Ngati Hei Kaumatua talk in detail with John Steele about the 12 days Cook spent in Te Whanganui o Hei. The event has sold out.

Saturday 19 October 

Movie Day

Join together at the Cooks Beach Hall for a public screening of the "12 Days DVD". Screening runs for 35 minutes and the Mercury Bay Museum will also be onsite to answer any questions. Screening times are at 1pm, 2pm, and 3pm. 

Sailing the Endeavour at the Cooks Beach Hall

A presentation will be held in the hall by Miriam Dawson to speak about her voyage across the Tasman on the replica of The Endeavour this September.