The Bay of Islands will be one of four main sites around the country in large-scale commemorations marking 250 years since Captain Cook’s first landfall in New Zealand.  If all goes to plan, the celebrations will include a voyage around the country by a flotilla of vessels including a replica of Cook’s Endeavour, waka hourua (double-hulled ocean-going canoes) and Navy ships.  Northland-only events will include a two-week waka-building festival with participants from around the Pacific.  The commemorations are due to take place in late 2019 with Northland’s role discussed at a hui at Waitangi on Monday.

While some events will be organised nationally by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, commemorations at the four key sites – the Bay of Islands, Gisborne, Mercury Bay and Golden Bay – will be organised by volunteer committees, such as Northland’s Te Au Marie Sestercentennial Trust.

Committee member and Far North deputy mayor Tania McInnes said local events would include a challenge for the visiting fleet and a re-enactment of the first encounter between Maori and Europeans in the Bay of Islands, when the Endeavour was met off Motuarohia Island by a fleet of 30 waka each with up to 100 men on board.  A festival in Opua would then welcome the visitors.  Planning was also under way for a two-week tarai waka (waka-building festival) which could become a triennial event.

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