'I don't see James Cook as relevant to me' - Tuia 250 protest organiser

Māori have suffered "tremendously", says Tuia 250 protest organiser Marise Lant, as Captain Cook's Endeavour headed into Tūranganui-a-Kiwa (Poverty Bay). 

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Marise Lant from Gisborne is leading protest action around Tuia 250 commemorations with the replica Endeavour set to berth in Poverty Bay. Source: Q+A

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1 NEWS Māori Affairs reporter Yvonne Tahana is in Gisborne for Tuia 250 commemorations. Source: Breakfast

Ms Lant spoke to TVNZ1's Q+A last night, ahead of the Tuia 250 Voyage flotilla voyage that assembled today, which included a replica of Captain Cook's Endeavour sailing into Tūranganui-a-Kiwa. 

"Two hundred and fifty years on we're dealing with the aftermath of the birthing of the Endeavour. It's pretty clear Māori have suffered tremendously," she said. 

"We're dealing with high numbers of incarceration, dealt with poor health, poor stats in suicide, methamphetamine and also implications of education. It's been well documented, well known we've been in that mode for a very long time."

"I don't see James Cook as relevant to me," Ms Lant said. "He has brought a history with him that Māoridom and my people consider to be offensive in many areas. It may not be the case for non-Māori, but it is the case for us that consider that history, as not a part of ours. If it is, it doesn't bring with it a positive energy."

"The reality of it is that when James Cook arrived in Tūranganui-a-Kiwa, he came under the banner of the British Government. With that came a set of rules, regulations and other organisation's systems that we are not, and were not accustomed to."

Tuia 250 is marking the first encounters between Māori and European explorers. 

Local iwi have refused to give a welcoming pōwhiri for the replica but will be present to honour their tipuna who were killed during their first encounters with the English explorer's crew