Plans for the national commemoration for the first meetings between Māori and Europeans are gathering momentum.  Tuia – Encounters 250 marks the 250 years since James Cook and Tahitian chief and navigator Tupaia arrived on the Endeavour in 1769.  Likewise, it recognises those who were already settled in Aotearoa New Zealand; and remembers the Pacific, Māori and European voyages that shaped our nation.

Led by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, commemoration activities will be held across the country, with events in the four parts of New Zealand where Europeans and Māori first met – Tairāwhiti Gisborne, the Bay of Islands, Coromandel and Marlborough.

Te Au Mārie’s General Manager, Ngaire Wilson

The Northland component is being facilitated by the Te Au Mārie Trust who appointed Ngaire Wilson as their General Manager in April this year.  The trust is working together with Māori, community groups, historians, ecologists, artists and schools to develop events and legacy programmes that will have long-term benefits for Tai Tokerau. Wilson said “we are still in the early stages of our planning for Tai Tokerau’s involvement.”

However, Whangārei and the Bay of Islands will be two of 19 communities throughout Aotearoa visited by a national flotilla as part of the national commemorations.  The flotilla will involve waka hourua, Tahitian vaka, tall ships, and the New Zealand Navy and “be on a scale most of us will not see again in our lifetime,” Wilson said.   Plans for Tai Tokerau include “pōwhiri to welcome the national flotilla to our region,” as well as an international waka building symposium and environmental and historical projects.

“The Trust’s job is to lay the initial framework for Tuia commemorations in our region, but it’s the community participation that will make the program come to life.”

To support the 2019 commemorations, the Lottery Grants Board established a $9 million Tuia – Encounters 250 fund to support national community participation. The fund is available for communities across New Zealand to hold events, organise activities, and share their stories and Wilson “strongly encourages interested groups and community’s to check it out”. Information on the fund can be found at

The regional Tuia 250 project falls within the Tai Tokerau Northland Economic Action Plan. The Action Plan is a regionally-led document of significance for Northland, and brings into focus more than 60 projects that together are contributing to transforming Northland’s economy and social development.

Please get in touch if you are planning a project that is aligned to this kaupapa.