Saint Clair Joins in Tuia 250 Commemorations

When Saint Clair red winemaker Chloe Gabrielsen signed up to be a crew member of the Tuia 250 Flotilla, she didn’t know what to expect. 

After two weeks on board the tall ship HMB Endeavour Chloe says the “once in a lifetime opportunity” has given her a better understanding of Aotearoa history and how early Pacific, Māori and European voyagers navigated by the stars to reach the shores of New Zealand.

Tuia Encounters 250 celebrates Aotearoa and Pacific voyaging heritage and acknowledges the first onshore encounters between Māori and Pākehā in 1769 and 1770.

Chloe onboard the HMS Endeavour replica

Commemorative events are being held around the country, centred around the Tuia 250 Voyage – a flotilla of waka hourua (dual-hull waka), va’a tipaerua (Tahitian waka) and tall ships which are sailing the coast of Aotearoa, landing at sites where the public can visit the vessels and learn more about the journey and New Zealand history.

The tall ship Chloe was on, is a replica of the HMS Endeavour which Lieutenant James Cook sailed to New Zealand and Australia on his first voyage of discovery from 1768 to 1771. (Fun fact for non Kiwi readers: the HMS Endeavour is engraved on our 50 cent coin).

Permanent crew and volunteers numbered about 50 on board, and together they learned the ins and outs of sailing and living on a tall ship, while keeping it in ship shape condition and joining the commemorative events on land at Uawa (Tolaga Bay), Te Whanganui o Hei (Mercury Bay) and Maraetai.

Chloe says the experience was equal parts challenging, fun, emotional and enlightening.

“It was really cool on board the ship, there were people from all over New Zealand and France, Canada, United States and Australia – a really diverse bunch from early 20s to an 82 year old which added a unique dynamic to the experience.”

Chloe, who is Ngāti Tūwharetoa (iwi from the central North Island), says attending the pōwhiri (welcoming ceremony) was a real eye opener for the non-Kiwis and hugely moving for her.

“Attending the pōwhiri was really quite emotional because the tangata whenua (people of the land) are the descendents of the people who interacted with James Cook and Tupaia [a Tahitian Polynesian navigator who travelled with Cook to New Zealand] 250 years ago, and you really got a strong sense of that, especially when the men took to the paepae (bench for main speakers at the front of the meeting house) for the speeches.”

Chloe is back in the wine cellar now, but the flotilla arrives in Waitohi (Picton) on Friday and Marlburians have the opportunity to explore the ships, learn about the traditional navigation techniques and a slice of New Zealand history, as well as celebrating Kiwi culture with live entertainment, markets and kai (food).

“I’d highly recommend everyone go, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and an important conversation to be a part of – learning about our ancestors and history, even the less than great parts of it,” Chloe says.

“And we need to continue these conversations at home, with friends, whanau (family) and colleagues and be open to understanding different people’s perspectives to really be able to understand the past and where we are today before we embark on our next voyage into the future.”

Tuia 250 is coming to Marlborough November 22 – 24. Head over to their Facebook page to see all the events happening in Waitohi (Picton) this weekend, and watch the flotilla’s progress as it makes its way to Tōtaranui (Queen Charlotte Sound) here.

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