Tuia 250 Voyage flotilla launches with tribute to tangata whenua

New Zealanders in Tūranganui-a-Kiwa / Poverty Bay will witness Māori, Pākehā and Pacific voyaging traditions come together today as the Tuia 250 Voyage flotilla assembles for the first time, Māori Crown Relations: Te Arawhiti Minister Kelvin Davis says.

Tuia 250 is a national commemoration and an opportunity for honest conversations about the past, the present and how we navigate our shared future. That also means celebrating our voyaging histories and sharing those stories that haven’t been told to wider New Zealand before - and this is what we’ve seen over the last few days here in Gisborne,” Kelvin Davis said.

“The first task of the six vessels in the flotilla will be to honour the tangata whenua of the region, the first people in its history of migration and settlement.

“When the vessels are in Tūranganui-a-Kiwa / Poverty Bay, bonfires will be lit at each site to show their significance to Māori settlement through ahi kaa, the burning fires of occupation.”

The three double-hulled sailing canoes of the flotilla – which landed on Saturday 5 October – will sail out to meet the three arriving tall ships - the HMB Endeavour replica from Australia, the Spirit of New Zealand and the R. Tucker Thompson - and accompany them as they acknowledge sites of significance in Tūranganui-a-Kiwa, on their approach to Gisborne.

Spectators are encouraged to pick a vantage point on the coast from Waikanae to Midway and enjoy the family-friendly activities and kai on offer.

“The Tuia 250 Voyage is the central event in the Tuia 250 programme and it’s an honour to be part of the opening events welcoming the flotilla to our shores on this historic occasion,” Kelvin Davis said.