Cook complaint presented to UN
A complaint has been made at the United Nations over the 250th anniversary commemorations of Captain Cook, while the Government pushes ahead with plans to roll out a ‘‘First Encounters’’ programme in schools next year.
Indigenous rights advocate Tina Ngata laid the complaint in April on the grounds that New Zealand’s discovery narrative – being promoted at events for the Tuia Encounters 250 commemoration – ‘‘underpinned the denial of indigenous rights’’.
Ngata, who teaches indigenous and human rights at university level, said she felt New Zealand had failed to condemn the actions of Cook.
These actions included theft, abduction, genocide and imperial expansion.
‘‘Trying to glorify this and memorialise this becomes problematic and goes against where we want to be heading,’’ she said.
At the forum held in New York, Ngata explained that the ‘‘Doctrine of Discovery’’ put New Zealand ‘‘a step behind in realising indigenous people’’ because it went ‘‘against human rights in the global community’’.
The ‘‘Doctrine of Discovery’’ was a document used by European monarchies to legitimise the colonisation of lands outside Europe.
Tuia Encounters 250 co-chair and former prime minister Dame Jenny Shipley said there would be ‘‘no Doctrine of Discovery celebrations’’ happening next year.
‘‘Quite the opposite, in fact,’’ Shipley said. ‘‘We’re celebrating our shared society and exploring that theme of what New Zealand has in common while facing up to realities – both good and bad.’’
Ngata, from Ruatoria near Gisborne, said New Zealand needed to address the human rights abuse that had occurred since Cook’s arrival in 1769.
‘‘We’re just now starting to wake up to the reality that we have some real race issues that we need to address. It would be counterintuitive to celebrate that act.’’
Ngata said her statement was ‘‘well supported’’ by UN officials.
Her complaint also drew support from many other indigenous rights groups from other nations in attendance, she added.
Tuia Encounters 250 was being led by the Ministry of Culture and Heritage, with a focus on the themes of dual heritage and shared futures.
The event’s name was a blend between the Ma¯ ori world, Tuia, to weave or bind together, and the European concept of time and commemoration, Encounters 250.
Ministry of Education deputy secretary of parent information and community intelligence Apryll Parata said the Tuia: Ma¯ tauranga programme being rolled out in schools would help support those themes.
Parata said it would also support the dual heritage and shared future themes through the documentation of stories with the four landing site trusts.
These included Gisborne, Ship Cove, in the Marlborough Sounds, the Bay of Islands, and the Coromandel Peninsula.
In Marlborough, Totaranui 250 Trust co-chair Raymond Smith said three stories from the Ship Cove region would feed into the national education programme, which was set to commence in 2019.
‘‘The first e-book would focus on the careening of the Endeavour at Ship Cove,’’ Smith said.
‘‘The second would focus on Cook’s lookout on Arapaoa Island, and how Cook disproved the southern continent theory that New Zealand was just one big island.’’
The third e-book would focus on Motuara Island, which was where Cook ‘‘proclaimed the South Island on behalf of King George III’’, said Smith.
‘‘It would explore the significance of place names before and after the arrival of Europeans.’’