Endeavour's return to Gisborne met with welcome and fiery protest

The pain of 250 years was shouted across the ocean as the Endeavour returned to Gisborne.

It's been 250 years since Captain Cook first arrived on our shores - an event which led to the death of nine Māori during the first encounter and the colonisation of New Zealand after this.

And with the knowledge of what has happened since the fateful day, commemorations on Tuesday were emotionally charged.

The flotilla with a replica of the Endeavour at the centre was welcomed back by some - and spurned by others.

The Tuia 250 commemorations have been bringing to life a moment many New Zealanders have only read in the history books.

It was a clash of cultures that left nine Māori dead and had an enduring impact on the region and generations of Māori.

"Understand there's a lot of healing that needs to happen, but people have a genuine aspiration I believe to heal these wounds for the benefit of the next generation," says Labour MP Nanaia Mahuta.

This time, the Endeavour arrived flanked by waka. Two cultures, Māori and Pākehā, side-by-side both on water and on land where thousands waited. Some were waiting in hope.

"History is something that we can look back on but we also must learn from so my message is to learn from the history we know and also acknowledge the history we don't know," one person said.

But others were waiting in protest.

"I don't wanna celebrate our culture being taken away," one person said.

"The last time it came it took half our people out," another said.

It was fiery and fierce, with a group of around a hundred protestors chanting "you're not welcome here" and setting the Union Jack ablaze.

The ferocity of the protest brought some crew members to tears and disappointed community leaders.

"The korero is fine, but when we target people, you know what we say in Aotearoa. 'Hard on the kaupapa, easy on the people'. That's all I ask whanau. If you're going to protest, go hard on the kaupapa, easy on the kids," said Te Ha Trust general manager Glenis Philip-Barbara.

But while local iwi chose not to offer a powhiri, New Zealand's dual heritage was still on full display.

There was a private and intimate whakatau for the crew and then a haka with local iwi clearing the way for dignitaries.

The Endeavour's 2019 captain was honoured to be a part of it.

"Being involved in something that is very meaningful, and I'm very pleased to be here," Captain Frank Allica said.

Today, a new history was made as the younger generation was reminded of what it is to be a New Zealander.

"We support both cultures as much as each other, and we're all in it together," children told Newshub.

The spirit of Tuia 250 doing exactly that.


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