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Plans underway for 250 year celebrations to mark Captain Cook visit to Mercury Bay.

17 November 2015

Plans and events to mark the 250th anniversary of Captain Cook's arrival on the Endeavour in Te Whanganui A Hei (Mercury Bay) will begin to take shape thanks to the establishment of the Mercury 250 Anniversary Trust.

The Trust is chaired by Mercury Bay Community Board Chairman, Paul Kelly with fellow Trustees being Ngati Hei Kaumātua Joe Davis, Mercury Bay Area School Principal John Wright and Mercury Bay Museum Trustee Richard Gates. Sir Michael Fay is patron of the Trust with TCDC councillors Tony Fox and Murray McLean acting in an advisory role.

Celebrating this milestone in New Zealand history and the significance of what took place during Cook's 12 day stay in Mercury Bay will be the focus of local, national and international attention. Not only did Cook establish the geographic coordinates of New Zealand while in the bay, of equal importance was the shared Maori and Pakeha experience at Te Whanganui A Hei at that time. It was here where mutual respect between Europeans and local iwi evolved. It could truly be said Mercury Bay is a formative meeting place of our now multicultural nation.

The Trust has identified three key project themes which will be integral to commemorative events that recognise Cook's on-going legacy in Mercury Bay. These being:

•             Navigation and Exploration – Crossing Place (Kupe to Cook)

•             Scientific Discoveries – Transit of Mercury

•             Meeting Place – Sharing of Cultures

The themes will be relevant and enduring, for both the wider Coromandel Peninsula area and the nation as a whole.

Given the involvement of many overseas interests work is going on behind the scenes with central government – funding being a key element in the discussions. The Trust is also liaising with similar regional organisations which have been established in Gisborne, the Bay of Islands and Queen Charlotte Sound. Gisborne, where Cook first stepped ashore in New Zealand, followed by Mercury Bay, the Bay of Islands and Queen Charlotte's Sound. These were all key sequential stopovers during Cooks 1769/70 circumnavigation of New Zealand. 

The primary role of the Mercury 250th Anniversary Trust is to work with central and local government as well as inform and engage the public, community organisations and other interested parties who may wish to participate. A priority is encouraging public support and participation in staging of commemorative events which will leave lasting memorials that recognise the prominent role Te Whanganui A Hei played in New Zealand's early history.

A public meeting will be held early in the New Year to inform the local community on what is being planned for this signal historical anniversary and call for volunteers who may wish to contribute and assist.

For more information contact Paul Kelly (07) 866 4430 or 0274 466 094.