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Pacific voyaging prowess honoured at historic early arrival site

Media release: 7 November 2019

As the Tuia 250 Voyage flotilla enters the Bay of Islands today it will pause and acknowledge Mangahawea Bay where compelling evidence of the immense voyaging reach and prowess of Māori and Pacific peoples has been found dating back to 1290 arrivals, say Co-chairs of the Tuia 250 National Coordinating Committee Dame Jenny Shipley and Hoturoa Barclay-Kerr.
“Archaeological evidence uncovered at Mangahawea Bay on Moturua Island as part of Tuia 250 confirms what we know about the Pacific Ocean being a vast highway of travel, well before Pākehā came to Aotearoa New Zealand,” says Dame Jenny.
“Mangahawea Bay has been established as one of the oldest known sites of civilisation in Aotearoa. During the Mangahawea Bay Partnership project, funded by the Tuia 250 lotteries programme,  it was confirmed that the approach to growing food crops during certain time periods at Mangahawea Bay matches that used during the corresponding period on other Pacific islands.”
“The unveiling of a carved pou will take place today on the island to acknowledge the connections that exist between Māori and their Pacific tupuna from the Hawaiki homeland,” says Dame Jenny.
Hoturoa Barclay-Kerr says: “As the Tuia 250 flotilla makes its way to Pēwhairangi Bay of Islands during this Voyage, it will stop at Mangahawea Bay to honour the long voyaging tradition and navigational expertise that made it possible.
“While our oral histories have long told us that we were great travellers of the ocean, the scientific evidence found on Moturua Island further reinforces these histories of Māori arrivals over a long period of time prior to Pākehā arrivals.”
There was also evidence in multiple sites of thriving communities that populated the wider Bay of Islands prior to the Endeavour’s arrival in 1769, as reported by James Cook and other sailors.
The Tuia 250 flotilla vessels will also acknowledge other sites of significance as they enter the area, just as they have done throughout the Tuia 250 Voyage, the Co-chairs concluded.
Tomorrow at 9.30am there will be a pōwhiri at Te Tii Marae to welcome the crew of the six vessels in the Tuia 250 flotilla. Some vessels may come up to Waitangi Beach, depending on the weather. Everyone is welcome to join or observe this event which will offer a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Updated on 15th January 2020