Otatara Pā sits on a bluff of what was once a great bay, Te Whanganui a Orotu. A pā is a fortified enclosure with an exterior stockade built for defensive purposes. A second pā, Hikurangi, is located higher on the bluff. The entire complex spans some 40 hectares and was favored by Māoris for its strategic location, expansive views, and access to marine resources. Throughout the area are terraces used for dwelling sites and kumura, sweet potato, storage pits. In 1931, a devastating 7.9 magnitude earthquake shook the area and forever changed the landscape, raising the bay. What once were shellfish beds is now dry farmland.
We departed Napier for Gisborne at 1900 hours on Saturday evening arriving in port 21 hours later on February 1st (February 2nd HST).
Tūranga a Nui a Kiwa, The Great Standing Place of Kiwa, renamed Gisborne in 1870 is a large coastal port that exports logs for construction timbers. It sits on the shores of Poverty Bay. Captain Cook, who first set foot here in 1769, named this bay so after a skirmish with natives where he killed two Māori warriors, and the people then refused to trade with him. We were welcomed into the community with a traditional Māori powhiri at the docks, and the crew is being housed at Tūranga Ararau, a iwi tertiary education provider.
Monday was a clean up day and the crew watched the Super Bowl in the afternoon. Aotearoa is a day ahead of the U.S. Today, we visited Whangarā and Whitireia Marae, most famous for the 2002 movie Whale Rider. Up on the roof sat a carving of Paikea on the back of a whale. He is the discoverer of Whangara. Students from the Whangara School greeted the crews of Hōkūle’a and the escort boat Tranquility on to the marae.
We spent the day with the students and the teachers and did a star compass demonstration. We ended the afternoon with horseback rides in the ocean while some of the crew surfed the beach break.
Tomorrow we will have students visiting the crew from 10a-6p. Thursday we are visiting another school in Uawa, Tolaga Bay, and then hosting an evening Mālama Honua presentation. Friday is Waitangi Day, a national holiday in New Zealand, and we will be opening up the canoe for tours throughout the day.