By John O'Hare
Our Northland Manager, Bill Edwards, led a training session with a difference recently.
PĒWHAIRANGI BAY OF ISLANDS: Staff of the Opua-based tall ship youth development programme, the R. Tucker Thompson Sail Training Trust, invited Bill in to hone their understanding of the history of the Bay of Islands.
According to Bill, “Staff on the R. Tucker Thompson were keen to continue to increase their knowledge about different aspects of the Bay of Islands’ unique history including European explorers and the Māori presence in the Bay which goes back centuries.”
“The Bay of Islands has it all – from sites where some of the earliest Polynesian settlement of Aotearoa is believed to have taken place, to Māori interaction with European explorers like Cook and Du Fresne – right through to European settlement culminating in the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi. The Bay is a microcosm of the story of human settlement in Aotearoa New Zealand.”
The ship’s crew were the primary audience for the training session – and for good reason according to Bill.
“The crew are the ones working closely with the youth of Northland delivering the youth development programme. To fund the youth work the not-for-profit Trust takes visitors to the Bay of Islands on sailing excursions every day during the summer tourism season.
“Ensuring that they are equipped with good information about the history of the area is vital so that these stories can be told with authenticity,” says Bill.
Many of the young people taking part in the voyages are local or have iwi connections to the area, lending further weight to the importance of Bill’s training. “Participation in this programme may provide an opportunity for them to engage with their heritage on a very personal level.”
Jo Lynch, the Trust's Chief Executive is happy with the arrangement. “We were delighted to have Bill Edwards join us to strengthen our understanding of the rich history in our rohe and moana. Storytelling is core to our kaupapa and we are able to connect our youth and summer guests in a deeper way to our bay through these stories.
“Once upon a time the Bay would have been busy with ships such as ours, sailed by both Māori and Pākehā traders and travellers alike. We want to be able to tell these special stories with care.”
Sailing on the Tucker is so much more than a boat trip according to Jo.
“The unique history of the Bay plays a very important part in the experience aboard, especially for our rangatahi Māori. Researchers from Otago University’s Psychology Department investigated the relationship between our trainees’ knowledge of the area and their sense of resilience.
“The findings suggested that for our trainees, an increased knowledge of the area positively impacted their levels of mental resilience. While an increase in knowledge about the Bay of Islands was positive for all our trainees, this impact was stronger for our Māori trainees. The findings suggested that for Māori youth, increased knowledge of their culture and area positively impacted their perceived levels of mental resilience. Teaching the history of the Bay is profoundly powerful, so we appreciate the help of Bill and Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga.”
The Tucker is an important part of the local tourism industry and for its work with young people, and should be congratulated for being proactive in upskilling their staff in this way according to Bill.
“The ship has a strong reputation for professionalism and authentic story-telling, and this training session demonstrates their long-term commitment to this important kaupapa.”
Curious about the Trust’s work or sailing opportunities? Tack and jibe your way to their website.