Ngāti Oneone re-tell accurate history of Gisborne

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes
  • North Island: East Coast

A memorial is being built by Ngāti Oneone in Gisborne to honour their ancestor Te Maro who was shot dead by Captain Cook when he first made landfall in New Zealand.

Speaking on behalf of Ngāti Oneone, project designer Nick Tupara says, “We want those stories to be told, ones that you can't google, ones that the Western academics haven't included in their many volumes about Cook.”

Te Maro was a prominent leader in the area, but as he approached the foreign explorer on the beach, Te Maro was shot dead by Captain Cook. The memorial initiative will precede the 250th Captain Cook commemorations in October next year.

“Rightly or wrongly, the Cook commemoration creates an opportunity for us to be included, in the way that we are going to re-tell the history of our district,” says Nick Tupara.

The memorial is part of a wider project with support from Gisborne District Council and Heritage NZ that will see an educational walkway built from Puhi Kai Iti to the mountainside and further inland that spans one thousand years of navigation traditions of Te Tairāwhiti.

Tupara says, “They start from Māui, and they come from all those tīpuna that came from Hawaiki all the way to us and sliced in there 250 years ago this guy Cook came, but it sits in the context of what navigation and what connection to a larger world is for our people.

Tupara says it's about celebrating their ancestor Te Maro and his own prestigious history.

“He was a graduate of one of our whare wānanga, our whare wānanga called Puhi Kai Iti that came here from Hawaiki on our waka."

The memorial site is an area of historical significance to Ngāti Oneone and their ancestor Te Maro.

“From this spot where we're standing is where he performed the rituals he had learnt in that wānanga to assist our iwi and hapū to grow kai and sustain themselves,” says Tupara.

Construction is due to begin next month.