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Cooking up Anniversary Events

2018 was the 250th anniversary of the Endeavour’s departure from Britain. 2019 is the anniversary for the Endeavour’s arrival in the Pacific, specifically Aotearoa/New Zealand in October, and Australia and 2020. This article looks at how these anniversaries are being marked in Aotearoa/New Zealand, and in Australia.

Aotearoa/ New Zealand

In July 2018 the Aotearoa/New Zealand government announced plans to fund events for Tuia Encounters 250. The Tuia 250 website explains that

‘Encounters refers to a European concept of time and commemoration …Tuia means ‘to weave or bind together’ and is drawn from a whakataukī (proverb) and karakia (ritual chant) that refers to the intangible bonds established between people when they work together.’ [1]

The Ministry of Education reflects:

‘Fifty years ago, the scope of the bicentenary was much narrower. It was almost exclusively a celebration of the navigational feats and achievements of Cook. A Māori perspective was largely absent. So too was any recognition of the role of the Tahitian chief and navigator Tupaia in these early encounters …How do we reconcile this with Cook’s overall legacy?

In the long term, Cook’s arrival opened the door for Britain’s colonisation of Aotearoa/New Zealand. Within a century of his first visit, Māori were outnumbered by European settlers and large parts of the country had experienced war and suffering. Māori sovereignty, economic strength and cultural vitality were undermined as a result. How can we use Tuia 250 to consider these more complex, longer-term issues associated with contact?

With any commemoration, it is reasonable to ask exactly what and who we are commemorating. Is this, as in 1969, a celebration, an attempt to provide a unifying experience engendering a sense of shared identity or pride? Or is it a protest against an ‘invasion’ and colonisation? Maybe it is something more complex and nuanced that sits between these two viewpoints.’ [2]

You can read the official release about the investment and the commemoration launch.

Tuia Encounters 250 is themed around voyaging, both the voyaging traditions of Te Moananui a Kiwa (the Pacific), and the Europeans and Tupaia who arrived in the Endeavour. NZ$13.5 million has been committed to the commemoration, with an additional NZ$9 million available for community led events. NZ$3.5 million is funding a ‘commemorative voyage’ that will launch from Gisborne (the site of the first meeting between Māori and the men of the Endeavour).

‘The Tuia 250 Voyage will see a flotilla of vessels, including waka hourua (double-hulled canoes), va’a tipaerua (outrigger canoes), heritage vessels and their crews voyaging to and engaging communities throughout Aotearoa/New Zealand. The Tuia 250 Voyage will promote the exceptional feats of Pacific, Māori and European voyaging that brought us together, while providing an opportunity to reflect on our complex history of migration and settlement, and a platform for us to think about how we navigate the future together.’ [3]

The Endeavour replica will be part of the flotilla.

There are also a number of educational resources being developed, including a research project on place names given by James Cook.

There will also be programming on a regional level, overseen by four trusts from areas of Aotearoa/New Zealand where the Endeavour landed.

Explore the websites in the See Also section below to find out more about the Tuia Encounters 250.

Controversial Commemorations

However, while Tuia Encounters 250 is presented as more balanced than earlier anniversaries, and aims for a celebration of the dual heritage of Aotearoa/New Zealand, the events are still controversial. While money is being made available to local and Māori artists and communities, the catalyst is still the moment of European arrival. The amounts of money involved are significant, and local people argue that it might have been more appropriate to channel funds into addressing social inequalities than in a national spectacle.

Read this blog by Tina Ngata on her perspective on Tuia Encounters 250.


The Australian Government has announced plans to spend AUS $47 million on commemorating the 250th anniversary . The programme of events includes exhibitions at the National Library of Australia and National Museum of Australia, and a ‘Return of Cultural Heritage Project’ led by Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies.

The Cook 2020 Festival will take place in Cook Town.

‘Cooktown 2020 is a visionary 48-day festival celebrating the arrival of James Cook 250 years ago, the scientific discoveries that were recorded during his 48 days on shore and the interactions and reconciliation that took place between the crew and the Guugu Yimithirr people.’ [4]

The Cooktown festival will include events on navigation, botany, cooking, art, music, and indigenous culture.

As part of the project AUS$3million will be spent on a Cook memorial at Botany Bay and one of the key plans is for the Endeavour to circumnavigate Australia.

Talking about the plans for 2020, in an interview with a Cairns radio station, 4CA, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said:

‘But the thing about Cook is, I think we need to rediscover him a bit. Because he gets a bit of a bad show from some of those who like to trash our history.’ [5]

The proposals have proved controversial. Pastor Ray Minniecon, an Aboriginal activist who has helped to organise “Invasion Day” protests on Australia Day, said it was upsetting.

‘It’s still an invasion and it’s still an unwanted invasion,” he told Reuters by telephone on Sunday’. [6]

Go to See Also below to read an article from Jack Latimore, a Goori writer and researcher in Melbourne who writes for Guardian Australia.

See the Downloads section below to read an article by Dr Nigel Erskine on reflections on Australian foundation narratives in the run up to 2020.


  1. https://www.tuia250.nz/naming-tuia-250/
  2. https://nzhistory.govt.nz/classroom/conversations/tuia-encounters-250
  3. https://www.tuia250.nz/
  4. https://www.cooktown2020.com/discovery-history/discovery-festival/
  5. https://www.pm.gov.au/media/interview-john-mackenzie-4ca-cairns
  6. https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-australia-statue-captaincook/australia-plans-captain-cook-monument-for-anniversary-of-colonial-landing-idUKKBN1I004C

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This article is from the free online course:

Confronting Captain Cook: Memorialisation in museums and public spaces

National Maritime Museum