Gisborne Herald

​Emotions were on display at the pōwhiri marking connections between Pacific peoples, today.

Hundreds of people flocked to Waikanae Beach and Te Waiohiharore (The Cut) to watch and be a part of the Tuia 250 commemoration.

The pōwhiri was for the arriving waka Haunui and Ngahiraka Mai Tawhiti and a Tahitian va'a Tipaerua.

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Gisborne waka ama paddled out to meet the waka.

The waka couldn't land on shore because of the wind so berthed at the inner harbour instead.

There were people along the Oneroa Walkway patiently waiting for the pōwhiri to begin.

"Its a beautiful day for this event" a visitor said.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern attended along with other parliamentary delegates.

British High Commissioner Laura Clarke was there with her whānau too.

A flotilla arrives in Gisborne for the Tuia 250 commemoration. Photo / Gisborne Herald
A flotilla arrives in Gisborne for the Tuia 250 commemoration. Photo / Gisborne Herald

The pōwhiri started at the Waikanae car park and went along the Oneroa Walkway towards Te Waiohiharore.

Daniel Procter, (Ngāti Uepohatu, Ngāi Tāmanuhiri and Ngāti Rangiwaho), was a part of the haka and said today was a huge roller coaster of emotion for all the Turanga tribes.

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"It's beautiful to be standing in the place where we can draw from the whenua, draw from our ancestors.

"This is where Te Rakau was killed and looking down upon the commemoration is Te Maro, so we tie all of our lineages together and we build a bridge from one another.

"It's been such a great day for us here representing our ancestors and building a pathway forward."

He said this was the longest pōwhiri he had ever done, from Waikanae car park all the way to Te Waiohiharore.

"We laid seven teka which represent the seven ancestors that were killed on this side.

"It's about reclaiming that korero and teaching it to our tamariki, so in 50 years when we are doing this all over again we are able to do it at a level that's appropriate, or even better," he said.

The official welcome for officials and politicians at the Tuia 250 event in Gisborne. Photo / Gisborne Herald
The official welcome for officials and politicians at the Tuia 250 event in Gisborne. Photo / Gisborne Herald

The Turanga iwi guided the manuhiri along the path and then over Customhouse St to the pōwhiri site at Te Waiohiharore.

There were hundreds of people waiting to watch the pōwhiri .

The Turanga iwi started the kōrero.

After each person spoke a waiata was performed.

New Zealand Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy's representative Piri Sciascia was first to speak for the manuhiri, followed by Édouard Fritch, the President of French Polynesia and finishing it off was Hoturoa Barclay-Kerr co-chair of Tuia 250.

After each manuhiri spoke a waiata was sung.

Speaking to The Gisborne Herald, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it was an incredibly important day for Aotearoa.

"We've had commemorations before and Gisborne Tairawhiti has seen those but never before have we had the telling of Māori navigational history told and that is an incredibly important part.

"It is a foundation of this story and so to be here for that, it feels very important and special," she said.

Ardern said you could sense the emotion in the pōwhiri.

"It was completely unique to have the delegation from Tahiti be a part of this.

"It's a commemoration, I think we should acknowledge that, it is the telling of the encounter between two peoples and obviously that needs to start with the history of Māori. That's where we have started.

"Of course, with telling those stories there will be some hard conversations.

"There was loss of life experienced in Tairawhiti and this is an occasion where I think we are telling those stories openly.

"We can't shy away from that and nor should we because in doing so we acknowledge the legacy of those whose lives were lost and you see it physically commemorated here," she said.

Te Ha Trust general manager Glenis Philip-Barbara said organisers were "delighted" with how the event turned out.

"What stood out from the speeches and the participation is that it was a real coming together of the entire community in a most powerful way. The feeling, the positivity, and the goodwill among the people was palpable – you could feel it in the air. The iwi called for their community to come and we came - and this was just the beginning –

Barclay-Kerr said today marked the beginning of a journey around New Zealand "where we will bringing our communities together with love and respect to share our stories".