A new Captain Cook monument proposed at the site of his first landing on April 29 1770 at Botany Bay in Sydney has drawn praise and criticism from the Indigenous community over the weekend.
Plans for the monument were unveiled by federal treasurer Scott Morrison on Saturday for the site where Cook first landed with the crew of the ship Endeavour and met Indigenous Australians for the first time.
The monument is expected to be ready in time for the 250th Anniversary of the landing in 2020.
Pastor Ray Minniecon, an Aboriginal activist who has helped to organise "Invasion Day" protests on Australia Day, said it was upsetting.
"It's still an invasion and it's still an unwanted invasion," he said.
However local Traditional Owners have given cautious support for the project.
The La Perouse Aboriginal Land Council Chairperson Noeleen Timbery said the project was about much more than just a single monument to Cook.
“You really have to look at the full master plan, as a total, and a design for a statue hasn’t really been formalised yet,” she told The New Daily.
“For us it’s broader than the Cook statue. We’re not really talking in those terms. We’re talking in the broader concept of the whole installation and what that means to the people.
“Using the word statue is kind of inflammatory, anyway, so it’s going to get people worked up.”
University of Sydney Professor Mark McKenna believes it's important the project is viewed in a positive light, particularly given the Kurnell community has already worked hard to acknowledge shared history.
"So often we've been unable to approach these moments - like the anniversary of Cook's landing, or January 26 - we haven't been able to find a way to work through these moments in our past without dissolving into unbridgeable chasms of differences in understanding," the historian said.
"After all we've been through, after all we know now, here's an opportunity to build on what's already happened at Kurnell."
Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Treasurer Scott Morrison emphasised that the monument would be inclusive as they launched the memorial's plan for community consultation on Saturday, saying the site marked a meeting of two cultures.
"This was the first encounter between Europeans and Aboriginal Australians here on the East Coast," Mr Turnbull said.
"What this offers us is the opportunity to show the view from the ship and the view from the shore."
Mr Morrison said the redeveloped site would tell the shared stories of Australia.
"In our community we understand that this is about a meeting of two cultures, recognising the incredible individual that was James Cook and ... commemorating the resilience of Indigenous Australians," he said.
A complaint was made last year over a Captain Cook statue erected in 1879 in Australia's largest city Sydney, because the engraving on the monument's base says: "Discovered this territory, 1770".
The statue was vandalised along with that of another prominent early British settlers such as Lachlan Macquarie, the fifth governor of New South Wales.
The prime minister said at the time that calls to replace or modify statues of English colonists, including Captain Cook, were tantamount to a "Stalinist" rewrite of history.
The incident came days after broadcaster Stan Grant called for an amendment to the inscription on the Cook statue, which says he "discovered" the territory in 1770.
Aboriginal people had lived on the continent for at least 60,000 years before Cook dropped anchor in Botany Bay.
Additional reporting with wires