Te Whanganui o Hei | Mercury Bay is one of four landing sites in Aotearoa/New Zealand where Māori and European first met during Cook’s 1769 voyage, therefore a significant place for Tuia - Encounters 250 commemorations. When H.M Bark Endeavour sailed into Te Whanganui o Hei waters, tangata whenua Ngāti Hei welcomed the newcomers ashore at their Tūrangawawae, Wharekaho, and guaranteed their safe passage to their marae, Wharetāewa Pa. There, Ngāti Hei honoured Lieutenant James Cook, Tupaia (a Polynesian linguist, navigator and priest) and the scientists and crew on board the Endeavour with the Māori ritual of welcome and inclusion, the Pōwhiri. Cook also observed the transit of Mercury and accurately established the longitude of Te Whanganui a Hei on the globe.
Along with Te Whanganui o Hei/Mercury Bay, regional commemorations will also take place in Tūranga-a-Kiwa | Gisborne, Te Tai Tokerau | Northland and Totaranui |Marlborough Sounds. The communities of each region are developing events, activities and also what is known as 'Legacy Projects' which all reflect the kaupapa | objectives of Tuia 250, to tell their unique stories.
In October 2019, a Pōwhiri will take place at Wharekaho to commemorate that first amicable encounter between Māori and Pākeha 250 years ago. Many other projects and events reflecting the kaupapa of Te Pōwhiri and Tuia 250 are planned throughout 2019 and 2020 in Te Whanganui o Hei. Pōwhiri is the traditional protocol to welcome and acknowledge guests | manuhiri.
Te Pōwhiri honours New Zealand’s biculturalism and acknowledges its multi-cultural communities. “It is an opportunity for our cultures to share our stories with balance and honesty, to bring about understanding, respect, reconciliation” explains the late Paul Kelly, chair of Mercury 250 Anniversary Trust. “It is an invitation to our nation, to all of us, to make the decision to create the future we want”. “An opportunity to tell our Ngāti Hei stories, to let our community and the world know our diverse history” says Joe Davis, Spokesperson for Ngāti Hei and co-chair of Te Whanganui o Hei Mercury 250 Anniversary Trust.
In the same spirit, today the people of Te Whanganui o Hei regularly include thousands of newcomers, visitors and holiday makers into their community. Join us, as we recognise and celebrate the weaving together of the many threads of the cultures of Te Whanganui o Hei and Aotearoa.
Together we build a strong foundation for a shared future – Tuia i te muka tangata.