The Tuia 250 flotilla is coming!

Press release - May 15, 2019


Marlburians are being encouraged to ‘save the date’ to welcome a national flotilla of tall ships and waka at the centre of national Tuia 250 commemorations.

The Ministry of Culture and Heritage this week announced the core vessels taking part in the Tuia 250 Voyage, which is due to land in Tōtaranui/Queen Charlotte Sound on November 21, with a huge community welcome planned for the Picton Foreshore on Friday, November 22.

The key vessels include two waka hourua (double-hulled canoes) - the Haunui from Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland and Ngahiraka Mai Tawhiti from Tauranga – and the Fa’afaite i te Ao Mā’ohi, a va’a moana from Pape'ete, Tahiti. The heritage vessels joining the flotilla are the HMB Endeavour replica from the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney and the Spirit of New Zealand from Tamaki Makaurau/Auckland.

Marlborough Mayor John Leggett says witnessing the arrival of the flotilla, which will be greeted by four local waka tāngata, will be a once-in-a lifetime opportunity and he encouraged the whole community to get involved.

“We have an incredible natural backdrop in Tōtaranui/Queen Charlotte Sound that promises to be the highlight of the flotilla’s voyage of New Zealand. The sight of the waka, va’a and the tall ships representing our dual heritage will be absolutely stunning,” he says.

“I encourage everyone to get involved – let’s give our visitors a warm welcome and show them that Marlborough really is one of the best places on Earth to be.”

The Tuia 250 commemorations mark the first sustained onshore encounters between Māori and Europeans, with the arrival of James Cook and the Endeavour in 1769. They also acknowledge the voyaging traditions and cultures of Te Moana Nui a Kiwa (the Pacific), the feats of Pacific voyagers, their mātauranga (knowledge), innovation and non-instrument navigation prowess and their decision to settle in Aotearoa before European explorers arrived.

“This event will be so much more than simply focusing on what happened in 1769 when James Cook, Tupaia and the Endeavour crew arrived in Aotearoa,” says Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage Chief Executive Bernadette Cavanagh.

“New Zealanders are ready for and want a balanced, respectful and honest reflection of our journey together from those encounters to now. The Tuia 250 Voyage will provide a framework for this discussion.”

Marlborough is one of only four key landing sites in the 250 Voyage, and events and activities locally are being overseen by the Tōtaranui 250 Trust.

Tōtaranui 250 Trust Chair Raymond Smith says Meretoto/Ship Cove in Tōtaranui/Queen Charlotte Sound has an important part to play in those stories of First Encounters.

“Totaranui/Queen Charlotte Sound has always been a main highway; its range of bays and coves provide shelter in any weather conditions. The thriving and abundant biodiversity at Meretoto/Ship Cove was valued and utilised by tangata whenau and expanded the understanding of the natural world for Cook, Banks and Solander”.

Following Cook’s first visit to Meretoto/Ship Cove in January 1770, he returned to the bay four times, engaging and building relations with the tangata whenua and stayed in the area for around 170 of his total 328 days in New Zealand.

Tupaia was an experienced Tahitian navigator who could communicate with Māori on board the Endeavour and offered a reconnection with our Pacific roots. The experiences our people had with Cook were generally quite good, but clearly they did not understand the consequences to come, when the flag was placed on Motuara Island on 31st January, 1770, and British sovereignty declared over the South Island of New Zealand.” says Smith.

We’re looking forward to sharing those stories, and also the stories of our own people’s arrival to this land. This is a great time for all of us to reflect on where we have come from, and we are are going.”


Fa’afaite i te Ao Mā’ohi

HMB Endeavour replica


Spirit of New Zealand

Ngahiraka Mai Tawhiti


In 2019, New Zealand will mark 250 years since the first meetings between Māori and Pākehā during James Cook and the Endeavour’s 1769 voyage to Aotearoa New Zealand. Tuia – Encounters 250 will acknowledge this pivotal moment in our nation’s history as well as the extraordinary feats of Pacific voyagers who reached and settled in Aotearoa many years earlier.

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