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Te Powhiri for Tuia 250 flotilla

Mercury Bay. Photo: Macronix

Members of the public are welcome to attend the hugely significant event and key ceremony for Te Powhiri – which will take place at Wharekaho, minutes north of Whitianga and below the famous Wharetaewa Pa – as part of the nationwide Tuia 250 commemorations.

Te Powhiri, on October 18, is to acknowledge and commemorate the first amicable encounter between local iwi Ngati Hei and Captain James Cook and the Endeavour crew 250 years ago in Mercury Bay on the Coromandel.

The powhiri, a central part of Maori protocol, is a ceremony of welcome involving speeches, dancing, singing and hongi. While traditionally used to welcome visitors on to marae – the sacred space or courtyard usually in front of Maori meeting houses – the ceremony is also commonly seen in everyday New Zealand life. Powhiri can happen anywhere that tangata whenua wish to formally great visitors.

Registrations to attend the Powhiri have unfortunately all been filled, says a spokesperson from the Thames-Coromandel District Council, however the general public are still welcome to catch the free shuttle buses running from Buffalo Beach Reserve, Whitianga out to Wharekaho to view the flotilla and the proceedings from outside the Marae grounds.

“There will be a seating area set up at Simpson’s Campground for those interested in taking a look at the Tuia 250 Flotilla. The flotilla consisting of two double hulled canoes – Haunui and Ngahiraja Mai Tawhiti, a va’a moana – Fa’faite i te Ao Ma’ohi, from Tahiti, the replica HMB Endeavour, R.Tucker Thompson heritage ship and the youth ship, Spirit of New Zealand, will anchor and disembark at the northern end of Wharekaho Beach from around 10am.

“This will be a family-friendly, alcohol-free zone for all members of the public to come along to and view the proceedings free of charge. You will also be able to follow the Hikoi along the beach then observe the ceremony from the beachfront or land located at the end of Leah Road.”

A Ngati Hei representative will provide narration explaining the proceedings of the powhiri along with snippets of historical information. At 11.30am the manuhiri will gather at the north end and begin the 1.2km Hikoi, guided by Ngati Hei descendants of the great chief Toawaka, along the foreshore and towards the southern end of Wharekaho, where visitors will take part in the traditional Maori ceremony of welcome.

Members of the general public are welcome to join the Hikoi, however access to the Ngati Hei land and participation in the powhiri is restricted to guests who have registered prior to the event due to limited numbers.

At 2pm, hangi will be served for everyone to enjoy followed by entertainment including kappa haka performances and James Webster. The event will finish at approximately 5pm.

Please note:
If you are attending the powhiri or taking part in the hikoi please wear appropriate footwear for the beach and the land. Also please dress appropriately to the weather on the day and refrain from bringing umbrellas. This event will be going ahead rain or shine and cover will not always be available.

There will be an exclusion zone in place in Wharekaho Bay for all other vessels and no beaching of the vessels except the waka will be allowed on Friday October 18 only.

Free parking will be available at Buffalo Beach Reserve, Whitianga. There will be no parking available anywhere in Wharekaho and the side roads will be closed to the public on this day.

Free shuttle buses will be running all day from Buffalo Beach Reserve, Whitianga to Wharekaho.
9am to 12pm - Buffalo Beach Reserve to Simpson's Campground.
12pm to 6pm - Buffalo Beach Reserve to Joseph Road

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