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First meetings commemorated

In the News - 6th October 2017 The Gisborne Herald
opening ceremony 2017 Caption: The 2017 commemorations marking the first meetings between Europeans and Maori started this morning with a blessing near the place where the first “breaths” were shared. Pictured: Ringatu spiritual leader Charlie Pera and Reverend Stephen Donald.

A GATHERING to mark 2017 events to commemorate the first formal contact between Maori and European here in 1769 was held this morning near the mouth of Waikanae Stream.

Speakers stood near the site Rongowhakaata warriors performed a haka on October 9, 1769, while watched by Captain James Cook, Tahitian navigator Tupaia, scientists and marines.


Ringatu spiritual leader Charlie Pera and Reverend Stephen Donald led karakia (prayer).

Kaumatua Owen Lloyd talked about intertwined bloodlines between Maori and European.

“The intertwining of bloodlines is the beginning of a new race of people,” he said.

Mayor Meng Foon said Rongowhakaata and Captain Cook could not have imagined a Chinese mayor in this region.

“The world is our oyster,” he said. “It’s a beautiful clear day. When the first waka came here they would have said ‘this is paradise’.”

Te Ha 1769 Sestercentennial Trust chairman Richard Brooking said each October the district commemorated the Endeavour’s 1769 arrival and the first formal meetings between Maori and European. 

Consequences of meetings

“We also acknowledge the consequences of those first meetings. In 2019 we will remember the 250th anniversary of those events.”

Gisborne Highland Pipe Band led the gathering in a procession to Waikanae Surf Life Saving Club for a shared breakfast.

The second Te Ha Art Awards and Exhibition will be held from 5.30pm today at Tairawhiti Museum. The theme is the impact of settlement on flora and fauna, and four awards worth $6000 will be presented.

Tomorrow night there are two musical events: The Maori Sidesteps at the War Memorial Theatre and the ExNE concert featuring nine original artists at Smash Palace.

Sunday’s events start mid-morning at the Cook Landing Site National Historic Reserve where Department of Conservation biodiversity ranger Graeme Atkins will discuss the ecology, habitat and medicinal uses of plants Banks and Solander collected from this district.

Participants are encouraged to bring along 20 snails from their gardens in exchange for kaka beak seeds and information on how to grow them.

From 1pm to 3pm on Sunday, Historic Places Tairawhiti Inc will hold its second First Meetings Korero talkfest about the first meetings here. Ten speakers will have five minutes each to talk about What’s in a Name?

From 4pm on Sunday, Young Enterprise team Project Ataahua will unveil its commissioned public artwork in the Bright Street car park, opposite the War Memorial Theatre. The artwork was created by Nick Tupara and Phil Berry.

An exhibition of sculptural works by Niuean Maori object artist Lina Marsh about the abundance and depletion of flora and fauna will run at various places in the city throughout the weekend.

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