Wellington Scoop

Mau Whenua light home fires to oppose arrival of Endeavour replica

Media release from Mau Whenua
Mau Whenua are opposed to the entry of the Endeavour replica into Wellington Harbour as part of the Crown’s Tuia 250 commemoration of Captain James Cook. It is not welcome.

Mau Whenua and other supporters today responded to the arrival of the Endeavour to Wellington with the lighting of their ahi kā, home fires, along Motu Kairangi (Miramar). This was seen as an appropriate response given the Endeavour’s long history as a hostile and dangerous vessel, whose arrival brought devastation to indigenous peoples wherever it went.

Mau Whenua has taken this position because:

• Mau Whenua will not be part of celebrating what the Endeavour represents: the dispossession of the land, resources and rights of indigenous people.
• The alienation of Māori land continues today, through government legislation and actions, such as the Special Housing Areas policy. Mau Whenua have experience the impact of this first hand with the land struggle at Shelly Bay, Wellington. This legacy of alienation needs to be halted, not celebrated.
• The replica Endeavour represents the same colonising logic that sailed with Cook and his crew, which Mau Whenua cannot support. The organisers of Tuia 250 did not meet with mana whenua in Wellington prior to announcing their intention to arrive, and have instead assumed the right of the Endeavour replica to enter Wellington Harbour without any form of discussion.
• It is simply not true that Tuia 250 provides Māori with an opportunity to share our stories of Cook’s arrival and the impact on Māori of colonisation. Māori have our own stories to tell, of our own people and histories. A celebration of the beginning of the colonisation of Māori is insensitive and ill considered.

The beacons of warning were lit on traditional sites of occupation. These sites located on Motu Kairangi, are old pā sites that would have been inhabited when Cook first arrived.

• Rangitatau Pā, which is a strategically placed fortified pā that has historically protected locals from attack.
• O-Rua Iti Pā, a fortified pā, which guards the entrance to Te Whanganui a Tara
• Mahanga Pā, another strategically positioned pā connecting O-Rua Iti Pā to the inner harbour.

Mau Whenua believes this is an important stand to make collectively, now and into the future. We want our mokopuna to know we opposed the celebration of a voyage that destroyed our ancestral way of life, and continues to disadvantage us here in Aotearoa and for across the Pacific.

Additional information.
The Endeavour did not enter into Wellington Harbour during its voyage here in 1769-1770. There is thus no historical precedent to be recognised in 2019 as part of Tuia 250.

There remains significant inequities in the distribution of culture and heritage funding to Māori. The Crown has invested at least $23 million into the controversial Tuia 250 commemorations, but still fails to adequately invest in key cultural events led by tangata whenua. Of particular note in relation to Wellington Harbour, is their failure to resource tangata whenua adequately in the tangata whenua-led Waka Odyssey which formed part of Wellington’s 2018 Festival of the Arts.

This statement is made on behalf of Mau Whenua, a movement of primarily Taranaki Whānui iwi, with support from other tangata whenua and tauiwi partners, who work to protect their land from alienation from its people.


  1. Irishmoss, 29. November 2019, 11:40

    With all due respect to the Taranaki iwi and the Crown, we are not going to get past the past by still mentally living in it now. I think at this weird time in our history (with the narratives altered to suit those in power and those with privileges), to be politically correct we should only celebrate the Waka’s arrival in NZ.

  2. Johnny Overton, 30. November 2019, 2:01

    What sets us humans apart from the rest of the animal kingdom is our unique ability to lie to ourselves about who we really are, & how we all got to where we are today. Like it or not, we’re hard wired to voyage, explore, expand, conquer, plunder, colonise, mix, mingle, cooperate & progress. This is what we do & we’re all descended from those who’ve done these things. We may call ourselves homo sapiens but we’re far from wise or perfect, we’re just good & sometimes twisted storytellers. If some among us can’t rise above the trials & tribulations of our mutual past & continue to apportion guilt to those who don’t deserve it, then our nation has no future. Humans eh, we’re a dark plague upon our land & planet, give me a good honest bird singing its heart out to usher in a new day, any day.

  3. TrevorH, 30. November 2019, 7:17

    So appropriate in a country seemingly intent on rejecting the Enlightenment values that James Cook so admirably represented.

  4. Andy Espersen, 30. November 2019, 10:27

    You hit the nail on the head, TrevorH – by referring to the European Enlightenment (with capital E). People incapable of seeing the wood for trees, now attacking the best thing that ever happened to Maori. The amazing benefits from the enlightened institutions and culture that the colonisers brought with them to share.

  5. Counter-Culture, 30. November 2019, 10:49

    You are both right and wrong Johnny. After a decade of brain science, it has been found human beings’ brains are not hard wired. The many who are lost to themselves – running around driven by their egos – have temporarily wired themselves up to plunder, rape, steal. With the really old us V them which is the core of colonization thinking. And those colonist minds still governing have always used the divide and conquer strategy. Be like the birds every morning with gratitude and love in your heart. Then you will be the light of the world and not part of the unconscious plague that human beings appear to be currently in the grip of.

  6. CC, 30. November 2019, 13:28

    Andy Espersen: Given the masses of evidence to the contrary of your comment, was it meant as ‘tongue in cheek’?

  7. Johnny Overton, 30. November 2019, 13:51

    What does counter culture actually mean Counter-Culture? Do you know anything about human nature & the real world, or do you inhabit a privileged guilt filled bubble? Here’s some real world facts. Hard working colonialists built this country which provides you with your daily bread & a roof over your head, & all born & bred kiwis are descended from them. The past, warts & all, is the past, it’s our future you should be terrified about. Today’s faceless colonialists serve no mother country with a long dynamic history & rich, innovative traditions, they’re here to maintain power & further the greedy & destructive aspirations of the globalisation establishment.

  8. Andy Espersen, 30. November 2019, 15:28

    In reply to CC : Science, reason, humanism were the bases of the European enlightenment which swept over Europe from the mid 18th century. The philosopher Immanuel Kant wrote that it consisted of “humankind’s emergence from its self-incurred immaturity” – and its “submission to the dogmas and formulas of religion and political authority”. Its cornerstone was (and is) freedom of thought and speech. The fruits of the Enlightenment were all the institutions of the modern world that we now take for granted: democratic governments (e.g. the US constitution), schools, hospitals, journalism (with its self-imposed code of ethics) etc., etc.

    In the 16th century, European expansion began the normal human-history way, driven by search for adventures, greed, lust, selfishness, etc. – but with the Enlightenment there appeared an added dimension. And that, of course, is the real reason why now European culture dominates the world. It is the Enlightenment which the Chinese, the Indians, the Japanese, etc. all unashamedly are emulating.

    Here in New Zealand we now observe an attack on the Treaty of Waitangi in the form of an illogical attempt to change the interpretation of the Treaty, counter to all previous understanding of it. In its time, the Treaty was regarded as a crowning example of enlightened European civilisation. To me this attack on the Treaty is very disturbing – hopefully free debate in free forums like “Scoop” will make us come to our senses.

    No, CC – There was no “tongue in cheek”.

  9. Counter-Culture, 30. November 2019, 17:07

    Woah Johnny! Don’t the global establishment want you to be in fear, as that is how people are mind controlled? How can there be any colonists left? For what’s left to colonize when the global resources have already been colonized? “Colonized” is just a PC buzz word.

  10. Mark, 30. November 2019, 18:11

    Andy the majority of humanity isn’t close to being enlightened. Financial institutions (banks) dominate the world. The other institutions, especially the political which is the manifestation of the unconscious collective of the human psyche (lowest common denominator) are held together by dogma. We have our (political) institutions run by the global financial monopoly which is about as far away from enlightenment as humans can get. There’s no “what do you need” to the people; there is only “how can we get more taxes, maintain market control and make more profit” which is the corporations’ mantra.

    The narratives around the Crown and Maori partnership treaty have been changed over and over and currently there is no debate around it.

  11. Andy Espersen, 30. November 2019, 19:58

    What our ancestors, Maori and Pakeha together, dreamed and planned has happened : we have blended – we are One People in Aotearoa..

  12. CC, 30. November 2019, 23:13

    Andy Espersen: Science, reason and humanism were central to many civilizations that preceded the theories of some European elites by many centuries. Of course, it was an interesting coincidence that the end of the ‘age’ and the French Revolution were at approximately the same time. With regard to NZ, Cook and European settlement were decades apart and Maori possessed sophisticated navigation and sailing skills centuries before his birth. As for democracy, that was developed by the Greeks about two millennia before the ‘founding fathers’ of the US, who had so little faith in the ‘people’ that they instituted an electoral college system to over-ride the votes of the ‘peasantry’. One could continue but you obviously subscribe to an unshakable ethnocentric ‘reality’ that ignores even an understanding that the Treaty was debated in Maori and translated by a missionary whose grasp of the language of the majority of the participants was worse than suspect.

  13. Mark, 1. December 2019, 7:12

    Andy. Humanity has always been one. But it has not yet happened that we can all feel this connection. The knowledge of being connected to everything and everyone is enlightenment. Obstacles are identification with a race, Crown partnership bestowing privileges to only one group of early settlers, mentally living in the past (which means not healing or growing), and fear. Our ancestors’ thinking and actions did nothing to allow for the reality of “one people in NZ” either. I can see why the Crown fears the challenge to its land and resource ownership governorship which is based on the treaty.
    It’s a little odd to have so much fear of loss when the Crown and Maori have sold much land, resources and national assets to foreign investors.

  14. Aroha, 2. December 2019, 3:13

    The Crown got a Haka and welcoming lights from iwi (fires used to safely guide boats into the harbor.)
    So this Waka protest was (in disguise) more about spreading a white shaming protest? Not a sign there of One People in NZ. That is a sad day as many people at the event were taught the Crown’s narrative and so wanted to follow the Crown’s lead and to commemorate the landing.