I will be humbled and excited to speak on behalf of Ngāti Whātua o Ōrākei at the pōhiri for the Tuia 250 Flotilla, which includes representatives of Captain James Cook and his crew, and tāne and wāhine including rangatahi from across the Pacific and Aotearoa.
First and foremost, the crew of the flotilla which includes, two waka hourua, a va'a moana from Tahiti, two heritage ships and one youth ship, are manuhiri visitors carrying a message of reconciliation and peace, regardless of my personal views, and the hurt that I see and understand every day as a result of the ongoing impact of colonisation on my people, it is my duty as tangata whenua to welcome these manuhiri.
• Tuia 250: Emotions running high as flotilla, including replica of Cook's Endeavour, nears Gisborne
• Tuia 250: When replica ship HMB Endeavour comes in
• Tuia 250: Flotilla and pōwhiri at Mercury Bay - where to view
• Tuia 250 commemorations kick off in Gisborne
My ancestors - rangatira of immense mana - have welcomed countless visitors to the shores of the Waitematā for generations. They have performed and have shared with the generations that followed, the essential and sacred ritual of pōhiri that has many important functions including ensuring that visitors to our lands are identified and that the correct process of engagement is undertaken.
It is crucially important that the pōhiri, an important element of my culture, a culture which colonisation set out to destroy, to deconstruct, to replace, is the first thing that is offered to our visitors, especially the Pākeha representatives of the British Crown and Cook and his crew.
It is important that the pōhiri in its full capacity, in the reo of my ancestors, ably demonstrates that the tikanga and the protocols of my tupuna persist and continue to guide and protect our people, and those who come as visitors to our lands.
The Tuia 250 kaupapa is a powerful opportunity to acknowledge the profound impact the arrival of Cook, and all that he heralded, had on Māori, on our way of life, on all aspects of our existence.
Ngāti Whātua o Ōrākei know more than most the price that was to be paid with the arrival of the Pākehā. It was a process which would leave us virtually landless and struggling to support our own.
Despite the loss of so much, we have survived, protected by our culture, by our whānaungatanga and manaakitanga, to share the meagre resources we were left with to support each other and those most in need, by staying true to those principles passed onto us by our ancestors, and fundamental to tikanga is the process of welcome.
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With dignity and humility, we will welcome the Tuia 250 flotilla to our shores, and when we do, we will ask the intention of the visitors. We will use the opportunity to share of the hurt that has been visited upon our people as a result of the arrival of the British.
We will seek to continue dialogue to seek solutions and ways forward so that progress forward can be made for the injustices that drove my people to the margins of the new world that came as a result of the arrival of Cook.
It is our culture, our tikanga, the vision and protection of our ancestors that ensured Ngāti Whatua Ōrākei survived. Survived long enough that we could see through some small
justice and compensation for all that was taken from us.
Survived enough that we could begin to rebuild and grow a foundation to support our people to move away from those margins, to return to our place as leaders and as engaged whānau bringing value to family and community across all aspects of the new society.
Tikanga also ensures that iwi have the mana to speak for themselves, to determine their way of dealing with issues important to their people.
Ngāti Whātua o Ōrākei will welcome our visitors, but we do so not to diminish the decision of others who may decline to welcome. Nor do we do so to diminish the right of others to protest, to say no to the visit of Tuia 250.
However, in our rohe we ask that people do so with dignity and acknowledge that there are many among those who are visiting, and they do not all represent those things that we oppose.
Finally, were Donald Trump to visit Tāmaki Makaurau in his role as head of the most powerful country in the world, the position of Ngāti Whātua o Ōrākei would be the same.
The American president's preference is to attack and denigrate and his atrocious track record against minorities and against those with little power and influence, and his often-severe political view, is so at odds with the vast majority of our people.
Yet yes, we must, and we would welcome President Trump as a visitor to our lands. And in that welcome, we would share our expectations while he is a guest here, and the hopes and aspirations of our people, and we would remind him and his delegation of those things which connect us.
Because to refuse to welcome and to refuse the opportunity to seek dialogue and to attempt to engage and inspire change is a futile path, which creates hard borders and walls, it is not the path of progress, and it is not the way forward instilled in me by the teachings and guidance of our ancestors.
Tuia 250 and our visiting British, Pasifika and whānau Māori, Ngāti Whātua o Ōrākei welcomes you to Tāmaki Makaurau.
• Joe Pihema is a lecturer of Te Reo Māori and Māori advancement