The people of French Polynesia are whānau, said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern as she welcomed the territory's president in Gisborne today.

The Prime Minister and French Polynesia President Edouard Fritch are in Gisborne for Tuia 250 commemorations and briefly appeared for the media yesterday before holding talks.

Ardern said she wanted to thank the president and his delegation ''with warmth''.

She thanked French Polynesia for their condolences after the mosque shootings in Christchurch in March, and their presence at the memorial service.

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The official welcome ceremony in Gisborne on Saturday. Photo / Gisborne Herald
The official welcome ceremony in Gisborne on Saturday. Photo / Gisborne Herald

"It speaks for the deep connection and personal relationship between you and Aotearoa New Zealand."

The two had much to discuss, "but you are family, you are whānau and it's wonderful to have you here," Ardern said.

Fritch was invited to New Zealand to participate in Tuia 250 commemorations in recognition of French Polynesian voyager Tupaia's mediator role between Māori communities and the Endeavour crew during James Cook's first visit to New Zealand in 1769.

10,000 people are expected to converge on Gisborne over the next week to see the waka hourua, and European ships arrive, as they did 800, and 250 years ago, respectively. Photo / Gisborne Herald
10,000 people are expected to converge on Gisborne over the next week to see the waka hourua, and European ships arrive, as they did 800, and 250 years ago, respectively. Photo / Gisborne Herald

A French Polynesian voyaging canoe (va'a moana) — the Fa afaite — is part of the Tuia 250 voyage flotilla.

The president has been accompanied to New Zealand by a delegation including Speaker of the Assembly of French Polynesia Gaston Tong Sang and Minister of Culture and Environment Heremoana Maamaatuaiahutapu.​​