Latest News & Public Notices

Te Pōwhiri - Wharekaho - Friday 18 October

01 October 2019

Public are welcome to attend the hugely significant event and the key ceremony for Te Pōwhiri, (the Pōwhiri), which will take place at Wharekaho, minutes north of Whitianga and below the famous Wharetāewa Pā (fortified village) as part of the nationwide Tuia250 commemorations.

Te Pōwhiri - Wharekaho - Friday 18 October

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. While traditionally used to welcome visitors on to marae - the sacred space or courtyard usually in front of Māori meeting houses - the ceremony is also commonly seen in everyday New Zealand life. Pōwhiri can happen anywhere that tangata whenua (hosts) wish to formally greet manuhiri (visitors).

Registrations to attend the Pōwhiri have unfortunately all been filled, however, the general public are still welcome to catch the free shuttle buses running from Buffalo Beach Reserve, Whitianga out to Wharekaho to view the flotilla and the proceedings from outside the Marae grounds.

There will be a seating area set up at Simpson's Campground for those interested in taking a look at the Tuia 250 Flotilla. The flotilla consisting of two waka hourua (double hulled canoes)- Haunui and Ngahiraka Mai Tawhiti, a va'a moana -  Fa’faite i te Ao Mā’ohi, from Tahiti, the replica HMB Endeavour, R. Tucker Thompson heritage ship and the youth ship, Spirit of New Zealand, will anchor and disembark at the northern end of Wharekaho Beach (outside Simpson's Campground) from around 10am. This will be a family-friendly, alcohol-free zone for all members of the public to come along to and view the proceedings FREE of charge. (**see below for details on transport to Wharekaho). You will also be able to follow the hīkoi along the beach then observe the ceremony from the beachfront or land located at the end of Leah Road (Leah Rd Reserve).

A Ngāti Hei representative will provide narration explaining the proceedings of the Pōwhiri along with snippets of historical information. At 11:30am the manuhiri (voyagers, community members, dignitaries, visitors to the area), will gather at the north end and begin the 1.2km hīkoi, guided by Ngāti Hei descendants of the great chief Toawaka, along the foreshore and towards the southern end of Wharekaho, in the footsteps of  Cook, the scientists, Tupaia and crew, entering the site of the "Te Powhiri", where manuhiri (visitors) will take part in the traditional Māori ceremony of welcome. Members of the general public are welcome to join the hīkoi, however, access to the Ngāti Hei land and participation in the Pōwhiri is restricted to guests who have registered prior to the event due to limited numbers.

At 2pm, hāngī will be served for everyone to enjoy followed by entertainment including kapa haka performances and James Webster - Taonga Pūoro (Māori musical instruments) artist. The event will finish at approximately 5pm.

**If you are attending the pōwhiri or taking part in the hīkoi please wear appropriate footwear for the beach and the land. Also please dress appropriately to the weather on the day and refrain from bringing umbrellas. This event will be going ahead rain or shine and cover will not always be available.

There will be an exclusion zone in place in Wharekaho Bay for all other vessels and no beaching of the vessels except the waka will be allowed (Friday 18th October only).

**Free parking will be available at Buffalo Beach Reserve, Whitianga. There will be NO PARKING available anywhere in Wharekaho and the side roads will be closed to the public on this day.

Free shuttle buses will be running all day from Buffalo Beach Reserve, Whitianga to Wharekaho.

  • 9am to 12pm - Buffalo Beach Reserve to Simpson's Campground (Northern end of beach)
  • 12pm to 6pm - Buffalo Beach Reserve to Joseph Road (approx halfway along Wharekaho Beach)