One of the Tuia 250 flotilla's stops in the Bay of Islands this week was not part of the original programme — despite its historic links to Tupaia, a master navigator and high priest from Tahiti who sailed with Cook on the Endeavour.

In 1769 Te Koukou, an ancestor of Te Kapotai hapū, was shot in the thigh at Motuarohia Island by members of Cook's crew.

Tupaia accompanied the badly injured Te Koukou back to Waikare — which is these days on the back road between Kawakawa and Russell — where he helped him heal.

Tuia 250: Flotilla heads to Bay of Islands after Whangārei visit concludes
Tuia 250: Stirring haka as flotilla journey into Whangārei Harbour
Tuia 250: Crews officially welcomed to Whangārei
Tuia 250: Flotilla to arrive in Whangārei as voyage reaches Northland


In a mark of gratitude Te Koukou gifted Tupaia a rei puta niho (pendant) and a heru (comb), taonga which are now in the British Museum.

Despite the link, kaumatua Kara George said Waikare was not originally included in the Tuia 250 voyage, even though Russell and Waitangi — which Cook hadn't visited — were.

The hapū was told they'd applied too late and there was no time or money left for an extra stop.

"So we pushed hard because we had a story. When we kept coming up against obstacles we said we'd hold our own event."

Waikare Marae kaumatua Kara George. Photo / John Stone
Waikare Marae kaumatua Kara George. Photo / John Stone

Part of Tuia 250 involves bringing mauri stones from Raiatea (an island in French Polynesia) on the Tahitian waka.

"Initially they wanted us to walk to Waitangi to get ours. We said, 'that's not hapū rangatiratanga'."

Last week flotilla representatives visited Waikare Marae and agreed to include it in their voyage. The new plan involves one of the waka hourua (double-hulled canoes) staying in the upper Waikare Inlet on Thursday night.

Before dawn on Friday a waka from Te Kura o Waikare will paddle out to the waka hourua to collect the mauri stone and some of the Tahitian sailors, then transport them up a creek to the bridge next to the marae.

From there the stone and the Tahitians would be ceremonially welcomed ashore about 5.30am, George said.


That would be followed by powhiri for surrounding hapū at 9.30am and visiting dignitaries at 11.30am, and finally a hākari (feast) at 2.30pm.

Dignitaries confirmed so far included Northland and Whangārei MPs Matt King and Shane Reti and Labour list MP Willow-Jean Prime, who is also the marae chairwoman.

While Te Kapotai hapū was unhappy about being left out, another stop on the voyage was cancelled after objections by the iwi Ngāti Kahu.

Mangonui was to have been the last port of call for the full flotilla but Ngāti Kahu was unhappy about not being consulted. They also viewed Cook as a "barbarian" whose visit had paved the way for colonisation and the large-scale loss of land.

Cook did not call in to Mangonui but the flotilla's planned visit was said to be in honour of Sir Hekenukumai Busby, the late master navigator whose workshop and celestial navigation school is at nearby Aurere.

The name Doubtless Bay comes from a note in Cook's journal. As he sailed past the entrance he wrote "doubtless a bay".