Mangonui has been axed from a voyage around New Zealand marking 250 years since Captain Cook's arrival after objections by local iwi Ngāti Kahu.

But former Māori Affairs Minister Dover Samuels is calling on the flotilla — including the Endeavour replica — to drop anchor off Matauri Bay instead.

A flotilla of vessels, including a replica of Cook's Endeavour, was to have stopped at the Doubtless Bay town as part of the Tuia 250 commemorations retracing the first significant encounters between Europeans and Māori. The flotilla is due to start its journey in Gisborne on October 5.

However, Ngāti Kahu chief executive Anahera Herbert-Graves said the first the iwi knew of the visit was when it received a programme from the Ministry of Culture and Heritage listing Mangonui as one of the destinations.


She was surprised not only because the iwi had not been consulted but also because Cook had never visited Doubtless Bay. The bay takes its English name from an entry in Cook's journal as he sailed past and wrote, ''doubtless a bay''.

Herbert-Graves said she showed the programme to the three marae in the area with mana whenua, and all responded promptly with a 'no way José'.

''Cook never came into Doubtless Bay so we felt it was historically confusing for our students. It's a fiction for him to 're-visit' us.''

Herbert-Graves said she also objected to Māori stories being used to promote myths that colonisation was invited, welcomed and beneficial.

''Cook was a naval officer on a naval vessel with instructions to claim land wherever he could. They were building an empire. Under the doctrine of discovery you could do whatever you wanted to remove people's control of the land.''

Cook's contemporary, the French explorer Jean Francois Marie de Surville, did call into Doubtless Bay in 1769, just days after Cook sailed by in the other direction.

Relations with Māori were cordial at first but when they took a dinghy which had drifted ashore, Chief Ranginui was kidnapped by the Frenchmen and died on board several months later.

Herbert-Graves said the iwi had no objections to other vessels in the flotilla, such as Ngahiraka Mai Tawhiti, a voyaging waka built by the late Sir Hekenukumai Busby.


Tamsin Evans, deputy chief executive of the Ministry of Culture and Heritage, told RNZ Mangonui had been earmarked as a destination because it was close to Sir Hekenukumai's home.

The ministry had engaged with the Doubtless Bay Promotions Trust, which included someone they believed was liaising with iwi.

Evans said there had been some opposition to the voyage but most communities wanted to take part.

The flotilla is due in Whangārei on October 31 and in the Bay of Islands on November 7. It will include the ocean-going waka Fa'afaite which arrived in Tauranga last week after a month-long journey from Tahiti.

Dover Samuels says the Endeavour is welcome to drop anchor at the Cavalli Islands. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Dover Samuels says the Endeavour is welcome to drop anchor at the Cavalli Islands. Photo / Michael Cunningham

Samuels is calling on the flotilla to drop anchor off Matauri Bay.

Samuels said his ancestors paddled out to Cook's ship with a koha, or gift of friendship, of araara (trevally), prompting the explorer to name the place where the encounter occurred the Cavalli Islands, after the fish.

However, some coastal iwi had negative experiences with Cook and he understood they wouldn't welcome the replica Endeavour.

''If he had arrived at Matauri Bay with cannons blazing he certainly wouldn't have got a welcome ... but it's part of our whakapapa, our history. We should embrace it with the good and the bad.''