Feb 17, 2020

‘This cannot be the end’ Govt commits to teaching navigational history of Aotearoa

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced a commitment to continue the legacy of Tuia 250 by continuing the teaching of navigational history in schools.

During the closing ceremony today at Tuahuru Marae in Māhia, Ardern said the new challenge is to keep voyaging stories alive.

“Today we don’t mark the conclusion, we mark the beginning of our journey. This cannot be the end, she said during her speech.”

One goal is to teach people about the stories is by introducing these voyaging histories into the New Zealand schools by 2022, says Ardern.

“Alongside that, we want to continue the legacy of teaching around waka and voyaging, the navigational history of Aotearoa [which] is incredible and giving the chance for young people to learn about that, I think is a legacy Tuia will leave.”

Overall around 400 kaumoana, waka hourua crew members, took part in the voyage. They were visited by 40,000 people at 14 different locations.

Tuia 250 co-chair Hoturoa Barclay-Kerr says the voyage has helped bring to the forefront the names of tāngata whenua, often missing from stories told about the first encounters between Māori and Pākehā.

“Through Tuia, New Zealanders have been hearing and talking about people such as Te Maro and Koukou, in the same historical vein as Cook and Banks. This rebalancing of our history is an important step forward, because through increased knowledge comes increased understanding.”

Minister Kelvin Davis says he is hoping to see more navigators in the future.

“Forty years ago Sir Hekenukumai Busby was the only leader in this area. Now there is Hoturoa and Jack. In 20 years ahead my question is who the next leaders will be after Hoturoa.”

Tuia 250 has received mixed reactions from different iwi. This includes iwi in Tairāwhiti who in October received an expression of regret from the British High Commissioner Laura Clarke for the killing of their tūpuna during the first encounter with James Cook.

“What I hope that brought, in terms of contribution, was really having these difficult conversations. It’s really important to be able to look back and acknowledge the past, acknowledge where there’s pain in that past and have difficult conversations even if it feels a bit uncomfortable, so that then you can charter a better way forward together.”

Rongomaiwahine spokesperson Lucia Ehu-Hamilton says her iwi is working on ways to continue the legacy.

“To have discussions in the marae, have our children go out on the waka to learn and go to the islands in Tahiti to learn their skills so they’re not lost.”


By Jessica Tyson for te ao Maori News, 17 December 2019