Tears of joy were flowing as Bay of Island's hapū debriefed on what they believe is the beginning of a partnership which will put Waitangi Marae in a positive light.
Bay of Islands-Taiamai hapū launched their first Māori Markets at Waitangi Marae on Sunday - the result of a partnership with leading cruise ship operator Princess Cruises which will promote the markets on board and passengers will be shuttled by ship tender to Waitangi Wharf throughout the cruise ship season.
Hone Mihaka, a representative of the hapū collective, said "tears of joy and happiness" were flowing as people reflected on the first market at a meeting which was also attended by Princess Cruises representative Sandy Olsen.
"We feel this partnership will put the marae and our people once again in a positive light in terms of Waitangi. We've been bashed up over the last few years, we've always been referred to as the trouble makers on Waitangi Day and all that sort of stuff," Mihaka said.
"However, everyone seems to forget we've been hosting arrivals since the first arrivals came here over 200 years ago ... by and large, our people have been inviting and welcoming."
Mihaka could not say how many people visited the market - which showcased Northland Māori arts, crafts and trade - but said there was a steady stream of people throughout the day which was "great" for the first market.
"Everybody made money. So today there are Māori families out there in their communities, stallholders who were there yesterday, and today they are injecting new revenue in to our local economy. They're contributing to the overall wellbeing of our region and our nation," he said.
Mihaka said passengers said they loved the interaction on the marae.
"We had people coming in to the marae and one of our old kuia sitting in the marae telling stories about the inside of the house, and the old people who have all gone ... It's the real stuff and what it does is connects the visitor to us."
Mihaka said hapū have secured 15 market dates to align with the arrival of cruise ships, with two more dates on the table.
The next market is on November 7 - when the Sea Princess arrives in the Bay of Islands.