The Tuia 250 flotilla of three tall ships and three waka hourua was welcomed to Waitangi's Te Tii Marae on Friday on a voyage which has so far taken the sailors from East Cape and, in the case of the Fa'afiate, all the way from Tahiti.

Tuia 250 commemorates the first significant contact between Māori and Europeans with the arrival of Captain Cook in 1769.

Paddlers ready the great waka Ngatokimatawhaorua as dawn breaks. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Paddlers ready the great waka Ngatokimatawhaorua as dawn breaks. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Kaihoe (paddlers) prepare to set off in the great waka Ngatokimatawhaorua to greet the Tuia 250 fleet. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Kaihoe (paddlers) prepare to set off in the great waka Ngatokimatawhaorua to greet the Tuia 250 fleet. Photo / Peter de Graaf
The Tuia 250 flotilla - including, from left, the Endeavour, R Tucker Thompson and Fa'afaite from Tahiti - appears on the horizon just after dawn. Photo / Peter de Graaf
The Tuia 250 flotilla - including, from left, the Endeavour, R Tucker Thompson and Fa'afaite from Tahiti - appears on the horizon just after dawn. Photo / Peter de Graaf
The Tahitian waka Fa'afaite makes landfall at Waitangi. Photo / Peter de Graaf
The Tahitian waka Fa'afaite makes landfall at Waitangi. Photo / Peter de Graaf
The waka hourua Ngahiraka Mai Tawhiti, built by Sir Hekenukumai Busby, arrives at Waitangi. Photo / Peter de Graaf
The waka hourua Ngahiraka Mai Tawhiti, built by Sir Hekenukumai Busby, arrives at Waitangi. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Temanava Macquarie from Rarotonga and her son watch as the Tahitian waka hourua Fa'afaite lands at Waitangi. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Temanava Macquarie from Rarotonga and her son watch as the Tahitian waka hourua Fa'afaite lands at Waitangi. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Kaihoe (paddlers) and tall ship sailors make their way from the beach to Te Tii Marae for the formal welcome. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Kaihoe (paddlers) and tall ship sailors make their way from the beach to Te Tii Marae for the formal welcome. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Warriors issue a challenge at Te Tii Marae to more than 300 manuhiri (guests) from the Tuia 250 flotilla. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Warriors issue a challenge at Te Tii Marae to more than 300 manuhiri (guests) from the Tuia 250 flotilla. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Warriors perform a challenge for the sailors of the Tuia 250 flotilla. Photo / Peter de Graaf Tuia
Warriors perform a challenge for the sailors of the Tuia 250 flotilla. Photo / Peter de Graaf Tuia
Warriors issue a challenge at Te Tii Marae to more than 300 manuhiri (guests) from the Tuia 250 flotilla. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Warriors issue a challenge at Te Tii Marae to more than 300 manuhiri (guests) from the Tuia 250 flotilla. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Sailors from Tahiti (left, carrying a mauri stone from the island of Raiatea) and Hawaii are welcomed to Te Tii Marae alongside master navigator Jack Thatcher of Tauranga (holding a photo of Sir Hekenukumai and Hilda Busby) and Tuia 250 co-chair Jenny Shipley of Russell. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Sailors from Tahiti (left, carrying a mauri stone from the island of Raiatea) and Hawaii are welcomed to Te Tii Marae alongside master navigator Jack Thatcher of Tauranga (holding a photo of Sir Hekenukumai and Hilda Busby) and Tuia 250 co-chair Jenny Shipley of Russell. Photo / Peter de Graaf