Friday, 21 June 2019


Frequent visitors and non-resident homeowners encouraged to take part in Te Pōwhiri

The Mercury 250th Anniversary Trust extends an open invitation to our community’s frequent visitors and non-resident homeowners to take part in Te Pōwhiri, the regional commemorations honouring Tuia - Encounters 250 throughout this year. Tuia 250 marks the 250th anniversary of the first onshore meetings which took place between Maori and Pakeha when the Endeavour sailed into Te Whanganui o Hei/Mercury Bay in 1769. 

Like many towns on the Coromandel Peninsula, a significant proportion of Te Whanganui o Hei/ Mercury Bay’s population are non-resident holiday homeowners and returning visitors, many of whom have had generations-long associations with our area. The trust acknowledges the value of all members of our community - resident and non-resident - and takes the opportunity of the holiday season to reach out to our regular visitors with an invitation to embrace the Te Pōwhiri ceremonies and activities taking place in Te Whanganui o Hei/Mercury Bay this year.

John Wright, a trustee of the Mercury 250th Anniversary Trust, says that 2019 will be a remarkable year not only for our country and our region, but most especially for our local community. Tuia 250 and Te Pōwhiri acknowledge the extraordinary cultures of voyaging and navigation that brought us all together in Aotearoa, the pursuit of knowledge and understanding of our physical and social environments and, right at the heart of Tuia 250, the weaving together of Aotearoa’s people and our diverse cultures and the creation of the sort of shared future we can all be proud of. 

“Te Pōwhiri is a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity for us all to embrace this kaupapa and it would be great for all of our community to engage in it,” says John. “I believe the high level commemoration - the pōwhiri to be held at Wharekaho [Simpsons Beach] in October 2019 - will be a profound experience for all. Everyone is invited, everyone will be welcomed and everyone will come away from this ceremony with a clear understanding of the many meanings of pōwhiri and what Cook, the scientists, Tupaia and the crew of the Endeavour experienced in 1769 when tangata whenua Ngati Hei welcomed European visitors to our shores for the first time in Aotearoa.”

Te Pōwhiri and its diverse local programme provides many reasons throughout 2019 for visitors and non-resident homeowners to join permanent residents locally in the national commemorations. The programme commences in March, with the main formal ceremonies occurring between 18 October and 22 October to coincide with the arrival of a national voyaging flotilla.  Hundreds of people are expected to travel from various parts of Aotearoa to attend the Te Whanganui o Hei/Mercury Bay major commemoration ceremonies led by Ngati Hei - the karanga at the Purangi Reserve and the pōwhiri at Wharekaho.  “Te Pōwhiri will be an authentic expression to all of welcome and inclusion from Ngati Hei and the Te Whanganui o Hei community,” says Joe Davis, Ngati Hei spokesperson. 

Following the pōwhiri at Wharekaho, commemoration activities will continue at The Tuia Stage; a 12-hour event featuring local artists, including poets, storytellers, musicians, dancers and kapa haka groups. The central performance is a 30-minute composition by Dr Charles Royal, commissioned by Creative Mercury Bay for the Mercury Bay Community Choir and accompanied by James Webster and friends, incorporating taonga pūoro, (traditional Maori instruments), kapa haka and woodwind and string musicians from the Waikato’s Orchestra Central. The programme, as it stands currently, can be found on the Mercury 250th Anniversary Trust’s website,

Everyone with an association with Te Whanganui o Hei is encouraged to contribute to the local commemorations, either through attending activities, making accommodation available to visitors or supporting the programme and sharing the Mercury 250th Anniversary Trust’s website and Facebook page with friends and families.  

Non-resident individuals or organisations may also contribute to the programme with a planned event or activity.  Lottery Tuia Programme funding is still available with a submission deadline of 17 January. Visit for information or contact Jan Wright, the Mercury 250th Anniversary Trust’s Te Pōwhiri Commemorations Coordinator at email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



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The Mercury Bay Informer is a highly popular community newspaper, based in Whitianga. The paper is distributed throughout the Coromandel Peninsula, coast to coast from Thames to north of Colville.