Regional | Education

Artists challenge commemoration of Captain Cook's 'discovery' of NZ

A cohort of Māori artists is opposing Tuia 250, which commemorates the first contact between Māori and Europeans.

Their exhibition, 'He Tirohanga ki Tai - Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery', will be exhibited in New York, in conjunction with the UN Permanent Forum for Indigenous Issues.

Behind the exhibition is indigenous rights advocate Tina Ngata of Ngāti Porou.  She says, “[It's] an indigenous voice, an independent voice, related to his arrival, related to the mistreatment of the indigenous people of the Pacific. It's an indigenous voice about Crown and government funding to celebrate what he did to us."

The Tuia 250 commemorations by The Ministry of Culture and Heritage (MCH) will mark 250 years since the arrival of British captain James Cook and the Endeavour in Aotearoa.

Tina Ngata says, “For us, it's a specific concern around the re-entrenching of colonial fictions within the minds and hearts of our future generations, it impedes indigenous truth, there's still a lot of colonial mistruth being perpetuated through these events.”

In addition to the exhibition, Ngata will present the concerns at the UN Permanent Forum for Indigenous Issues.

“We're very concerned about the curriculum being rolled out around the country that equates British imperial expansion with Polynesian navigation and calls it British maritime heritage...that diminishes and minimalises the genocidal impacts of that imperial expansion as it moved across Te Moana Nui a Kiwa,” says Ngata.

The 'Doctrine of Discovery' was a religious justification used by European monarchies to legitimise colonisation.

Ngata says, “We would like our own sovereign voice around these issues so that's what this is, it's a sovereign discussion around the impacts of the Doctrine of Discovery and the myths of discovery and how those continue to impact upon us today.”

MCH declined a request by Te Ao Māori News for comment.