The Tuia 250 Voyage flotilla - comprising of double-hulled waka Haunui and Fa'afaite, the HMB Endeavor replica and the Spirit of New Zealand – have been welcomed to Meretoto, Ship Cove in Marlborough.
The voyage marks 250 years since the first meetings between Māori and pakeha.
For Kiley Nepia of Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō, it was a day of kotahitanga, aroha and the sharing of stories based on prominent tīpuna Kupe and Tupaia from Tahiti.
“Tuatahi, ki te tuku nei i te reo aroha ki ō tātou tini whanaunga i haere mai tahi, te nui tahi, te roa i runga i te whakaaro, ko tō rātou tupuna a Tupaia i tae mai i roto anō i a mātou.”
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The iwi involved with the welcoming today included Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō, Ngāti Kuia, Rangitāne o Wairau and Te Ātiawa o Te Waka-a-Māui.
Tāngata whenua had their first encounter with Captain James Cook at Meretoto in 1770.
Tupaia sailed with Cook on the Endeavour and during the arrival he helped smooth out some of the initial aggression by welcoming rangatira on board with a hongi.
Maui Neri from Tahiti says the Endeavor first arrived in Tahiti before traveling to Aotearoa.
“Tupaia had the time to speak to him, talk to him and learn the language, a bit of the English language. So when he arrived here, he found that the people here were talking almost the same language because we are all relatives. We have the same tūpuna. So when Tupaia arrived he tried to translate English to Māori.”
During the Tuia 250 voyage to Northland, Neri learned about how Tupaia healed one Māori chief Te Kaukau.
“We heard a lot of stories like that and this is really important because it shows our true nature as Polynesian. I mean the aroha. When we go somewhere we meet other people we still have this feeling inside of us and dame for today, we are all here all together with aroha.”
Another important story relates to the great explorer Kupe. The Tōtaranui, Queen Charlotte Sound, area was visited by Kupe during his exploration of New Zealand.
“He tā ngā kōrero tuku iho ka tae mai a Kupe mai ia i Te Wheke-a-Muturangi. Ka mate Te Wheke-a-Muturangi ki tēnei takiwā tonu nei. Ko ngā ana ko ngā kawenga o Te Wheke-a-Muturangi ko ngā tokonui nei ngā whatu kaiporo o Te Wheke-a-Muturangi. Koira ōnā karu.”
The hope is to keep the stories alive by learning the stories passed down from kaumatua and to by getting out on the waka.
“Nō reira, me hoki anō tātou ki a Tupaia, kia Kupe ki a wai ake, kia whakarauora anō i ngā mahi whakaterewaka,”
Tomorrow the flotilla will come ashore to Picton to be welcomed by the public.