Monday, 17 February 2020


Several local Tuia 250 events confirmed

The kaupapa/purpose of Tuia - 250 Encounters is woven throughout the extensive programme of activities that will be taking place in Te Whanganui o Hei/Mercury Bay from March 2019. Tuia - 250 Encounters is all about telling the stories, histories and voyaging traditions of the Māori communities who had been established in Aotearoa/New Zealand for hundreds of years, as well as marking the first onshore encounters between Māori and Europeans during the first voyage of James Cook and the HM Bark Endeavour in 1769.  

Stories will be expressed and shared via commemoration activities, including arts, music, storytelling, kapa haka, cultural commemoration and celebration. A series of locally significant historic stories has also been written and can be found on the Mercury 250 Anniversary Trust’s website, The purpose of these stories is to provide further opportunity to learn, develop and deepen an understanding of Te Whanganui o Hei/Mercury Bay’s dual heritage.

 “The rich Ngāti Hei content of the stories, much of which are being printed for the first time, are founded on traditional oral accounts passed down through generations of Ngāti Hei by kau te korero, ‘historical accounts told around the fireplace,’” says Richard Gates, historian and trustee of the Mercury 250 Anniversary Trust. “The Mercury 250 Anniversary Trust acknowledges Ngāti Hei and, in particular, Joe Davis for the tremendously generous manner in which these stories have been shared with us.”

By presenting meaningful commemoration activities in Te Whanganui o Hei/Mercury Bay along with the three other sites in Aotearoa New Zealand where Māori and Europeans first met during Cook’s 1769 voyage, Tuia 250 will enhance the reputation of Aotearoa/New Zealand around the world. Tuia 250 commemoration programmes across the country will promote the exceptional skill, innovation and courage of our Pacific and European ancestors, the integrity and values of Aotearoa/New Zealand today as well as the natural beauty of our seas and whenua (land).

Confirmed activities on the local calendar include the Mercury Bay Art Escape Trust’s community street art festival, taking place in Whitianga from 4 March to 8 March 2019. The project will feature a series of 12 murals reflecting the themes of “First Encounters” and “Navigation.” The murals will be painted by Mercury Bay Art Escape artists and well-known street artists from around the Coromandel Peninsula, Auckland and Hamilton.

Creative Mercury Bay have confirmed Tola Newberry will perform “Ka Tito Au, Kupe’s Heroic Journey” on two occasions on 5 April 2019. Mercury Bay Area School students will attend a matinee and the play will be open to the public in the evening. The solo show, written by Apirana Taylor, is a captivating and informative performance.

A Ngati Hei cultural outreach programme to Te Whanganui o Hei kura (schools) will commence in March, preparing students and teachers with pōwhiri, choreography and weaving wānanga for their involvement in Te Pōwhiri, the major commemoration ceremony on Saturday 19 October 2019.

A national flotilla of waka, ships and possibly the replica of HM Bark Endeavour based at the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney is expected to arrive in Te Whanganui o Hei/Mercury Bay on Friday 18th October 2019, with a karanga delivered by Ngati Hei representatives at the Purangi Reserve during the evening. 

“The Tuia Stage,” an outdoor performance space located at Taylor’s Mistake in Whitianga for the purpose of Tuia 250 commemoration activities, will take place on Sunday 20 October 2019. Events on The Tuia Stage have been fully funded by the Lotteries Tuia Programme and will be free to the public. The Tuia Stage is a 12-hour event featuring local artists, including poets, storytellers, musicians, dancers and kapa haka groups. The central performance will be a special composition by Charles Royal, performed by James Webster and friends, incorporating taonga pūoro, traditional Maori instruments. The 30-minute composition, sung largely in English with Maori passages, will be accompanied by 20 woodwind and string musicians from the Waikato’s Orchestra Central, alongside the Mercury Bay Community Choir, who will be working on the composition from June 2019. The composition was specifically commissioned for The Tuia Stage.

The Raranga Tent situated next to The Tuia Stage will exhibit creations from Coromandel weavers, who will also be demonstrating the art of weaving. Members of the public will be welcome to observe and to try.

During the Saturday of Labour Weekend (Saturday 26 October 2019), a sand art competition sponsored and organised by The Informer and Richardsons Real Estate Cooks Beach will take place. The event will be open to a variety of age groups, with prizes for all categories, including major cash prizes. The judges will be announced in the first half of 2019. The competition will be held at Cooks Beach in the vicinity of the Banks Street Reserve. A carnival will take place at the reserve during the competition, with stalls, food and live entertainment. A shuttle service between Ferry Landing and Cooks Beach will be available on the day.

Pictured: Te Whanganui o Hei/Mercury Bay basking in the sunshine on Friday last week.


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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.