Maori outcry stops replica of Captain Cook ship from docking in New Zealand port

17 September 2019, 13:25 | Updated: 17 September 2019, 16:50

A replica of Captain Cook's ship Endeavour has been banned from docking at a village in New Zealand after an outcry from the local Maori community, according to reports in the country.

The vessel is part of a flotilla that will circumnavigate the island next month for a celebration called Tuia 250, which marks "the first onshore encounters" between Maori and New Zealanders of European descent between 1769 and 1770.

The ship was due to visit Mangonui, in the North Island, but the Ministry For Culture And Heritage reportedly cancelled the stop after complaints from indigenous figures.

Anahera Herbert-Graves, head of the Ngati Kahu tribe in Northland, told the New Zealand Herald the ministry had not consulted them about the ship's planned stop in the historic fishing village.

She also told the online news site that the British explorer was a "barbarian", and continued: "Wherever he went, like most people of the time of imperial expansion, there were murders, there were abductions, there were rapes, and just a lot of bad outcomes for the indigenous people.

"He didn't discover anything down here, and we object to Tuia 250 using euphemisms like 'encounters' and 'meetings' to disguise what were actually invasions."

Ms Herbert-Graves also said that Captain Cook never even landed in Mangonui.

Tamsin Evans, deputy chief executive at the Ministry For Culture And Heritage, said the village had been chosen because it was the home of Sir Hector Busby.

The Maori navigator was a builder of the indigenous people's traditional canoes.

Ms Evans said: "We always knew that Tuia would cause some mixed responses.

"We fully appreciate the mamae (pain) and the hurt that exist very strongly still in some communities.

"Our job is to open the books. Let's look at all the history, and let's start to talk about this."

She added that the flotilla would only stop at places where "a welcome is clear".

Captain Cook and the crew of Endeavour landed in Gisborne's Poverty Bay in 1769, with the first significant meetings of Europeans and Maori taking place nearby.

The Rongowhakaata tribe in Gisborne, nearly 500 miles (800km) from Mangonui, has said it will not be holding welcoming ceremonies for ships linked to colonisation.

Amohaere Houkamau at the Rongowhakaata Trust said a service would instead be held for "nine tipuna (ancestors) who were shot or injured during the events of October 1769".

She also suggested "descendants of colonialists" were better placed to welcome the ships.

Tensions over New Zealand's colonial past are said to have had been rising in the year leading up to the planned celebrations.

The council in Gisborne decided to remove a statue of Captain Cook after it was repeatedly vandalised in 2018.