NZ wrestles with James Cook landing anniversary

The Guardian

Wed, Oct 09, 2019 - Page 6

A replica of Captain James Cook’s Endeavour yesterday docked in Gisborne 250 years after the British navigator landed in New Zealand and named the cove he first sighted Poverty Bay.

The replica is part of a flotilla, known as Tuia 250, that has been sailing around New Zealand on a taxpayer-funded voyage in memory of Cook’s arrival in New Zealand.

Dame Jenny Shipley, who is co-chair of Tuia 250, acknowledged that for many indigenous New Zealanders the commemoration celebrations are tinged with grief, as nine Mori lost their lives in the first encounter with Cook and his men, and eventually the Mori people lost their sovereignty.

“I’ve been very proud of both Mori and Pkeh, the way they’ve come to this and rather than arguing the facts of history, have tried to explore the emotions that it’s evoked and that’s been the experience here this week,” she said.

“It’s quite right that 250 years on some people are really proud and want to move on, they see this as a huge contribution to society, others see it as a tragic intervention.

“It is not a bad thing if people want to express their differences and New Zealanders are ready to grow up and do that,” Shipley said as she welcomed the Endeavour into port.

“If there are protests, of course they’re entitled to express their view, but I can tell you there are many in both of the iwi who also want to move forward and there’s got to be space for everybody.”

Some iwi — tribal Mori — have opposed the commemoration celebrations , and said that spending taxpayer money marking the colonization of Mori land is wrong.

At least one town banned the ship from docking after an outcry from the local Mori community.

Ten thousand people gathered in Gisborne to welcome the ship but New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was noticeably absent.

She was meeting with visiting Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

Ardern told RNZ that it was important New Zealanders faced up to uncomfortable realities around Cook’s arrival in New Zealand, and she had already spent two days in Gisborne over the weekend.

Ardern said her decision not to attend today’s commemoration should not be read as political.

“This is the chance to talk about the reality of New Zealand’s history, to acknowledge it, to be open about it,” she said.