We may say this in praise of Cook—the man in the history of oceanic exploration most difficult to overpraise—that he carried out Tasman's instructions. The judgement falls short of adequacy. He did not, it is true, discover the 'Salomonis Islands', he was even disinclined to believe in their existence; but the lands that he did report he reported thoroughly; he sounded, surveyed, charted; he formed amicable relations with almost all the peoples of the Pacific; he showed insight psychological as well as geographical; he sailed to the highest latitude ever reached by sea in the south in one particular longitude; although he found no gold or silver and revealed no rich civilization for European nations to exploit, his search for Terra australis incognita was so complete that after his second voyage it was plain that even the geographer most devoted to theoretical reasoning could no longer believe in its existence. It is in the context of Pacific exploration in general that we must judge Cook's work, and it is in this context that his visits to New Zealand become most significant as part of a life devoted to exploration; but here New Zealand must be the centre of study. For Cook the country was not merely a land discovered and mapped, it was a base, important as a base above all on his astonishing second voyage; for us emphasis must be on the discovery, part of that first voyage which was so striking and signal an achievement, even among the manifold achievements of the eighteenth century. In that voyage was made the first scientific discovery of New Zealand, the land and its native people. At the roots of our islanded history are the navigator, Cook; and the ship, the Endeavour.
Cook was born in 1728; he was still under forty in August 1768, when the Endeavour left Plymouth on her great voyage. page 25He had had thirteen years of naval service and was known as an exceptionally skilled marine surveyor, as well as a good astronomical observer. Now, a newly-commissioned lieutenant, he was to prove himself also a great commander of men and a great discoverer. His primary task was to take a scientific expedition to Tahiti, discovered by Captain Samuel Wallis the previous year, to observe the transit of Venus across the disc of the sun. This was to oblige the Royal Society. The ship was a small one, a bark of 368 tons, 'cat-built', that is, with round bluff bows, wide deep waist and rather flat bottom, and tapering towards the stern; her length was 105 feet, beam 29 feet, and her depth amidships 20 feet; she had a freeboard of something like five feet. She was roomy for her size, and though a slow sailer an excellent sea-boat. She had additional wooden sheathing, studded with nails, was fitted out for a two years' voyage, and she carried ninety-four men. Among them were not merely the astronomical observer, but Mr. Joseph Banks, a young gentleman blessed with the multitudinous gifts of wealth, brains, a sense of adventure, and the scientific spirit. He meant to botanize and to form collections in natural history; he took with him a brother botanist of great distinction, the Swede Dr. Daniel Solander. The flora of New Zealand indeed was to be introduced to science under notable auspices. Tahiti was reached in April 1769, the observations were made at the beginning of June, and after exploration of other islands of the Society group, Cook sailed south on 9 August. He had been joined by Tupaia, an island priest, knowledgeable in navigation, a man of quick intelligence, eager to visit England under the patronage of Banks.
Astronomical observation was not the only object of the voyage. As soon as that part of the work was completed, so Cook's secret instructions directed him, he was to put to sea in search of the great southern continent. Its coast should be encountered between the latitude of Tahiti and 40° south; it was to be explored and the nature of its people examined; if it was uninhabited, it was to be annexed. But even if the continent was not found, there was still work to do. Cook was to make search to the westward, 'between the latitude before mentioned and the latitude of 35° until you discover it or fall in with the Eastern side of the land discovered by Tasman and now called page 26New Zealand. . . . You will, upon falling in with New Zealand, carefully observe the latitude and longitude in which that land is situated, and explore as much of the coast as the condition of the Bark, the health of her crew, and the state of your provisions will admit of, having always great attention to reserve as much of the latter as will enable you to reach some known Port where you may procure a sufficiency to carry you to England' round either the Cape of Good Hope or Cape Horn, as Cook might judge best. Cook bettered his instructions, as was his habit. He sailed down to latitude 40° 22', his ship's company full of hope and his Tahitian hogs suffering from the unaccustomed cold, meeting with seaweed, fog and clouds, gales and hail, but no more than deceptive appearances of land. On 1 September he began to return to the north, and then changed his course west. On 5 October Banks was writing in his journal, 'Our old enemy Cape fly away entertaind us for three hours this morn'; about the same time Cook noted a paler colour in the water, and at 2 p.m. on 6 October 1769 a boy at the masthead, Nicholas Young, sighted land bearing west by north, 'which we stood directly for, and could but just see it of the deck at sun set'. 'All hands seem to agree that this is certainly the Continent we are in search of,' wrote the impulsive Mr. Banks. Next afternoon a bay was visible. 'We saw in the Bay several Canoes, People upon the shore, and some houses in the Country. The land on the Sea-Coast is high, with white steep clifts and back inland are very high mountains, the face of the Country is of a hilly surface and appeares to be cloathed with wood and Verdure.' With these words did Cook record his first sight of New Zealand.
The weather was clear. In the afternoon of the 8th the Endeavour stood into the bay and anchored opposite the entrance of a small river—the Turanganui—and Cook, Banks, and Solander went ashore. They wished for a peaceable meeting with the natives, but the second contact of European and Maori was to be, like the first, fatal. It was the Maori who this time suffered. Cook landed on the eastern side of the river, but seeing some 'Indians' on the other side crossed over in his yawl, leaving the pinnace at the river's entrance. The 'Indians' making off, Cook and his companions walked two or three hundred yards to their huts, leaving the yawl in charge of four page 27boys. Four men immediately emerged from the bush on the eastern side and ran to seize the yawl; the boys, warned by shouts from the pinnace, dropped downstream closely pursued; the pinnace fired muskets over the assailants' heads, and then, just as one of them was about to hurl a spear at the yawl, another musket, which killed him on the spot. For a minute or two the other three stood startled and motionless; then, dragging the body a little way, they made off. Cook, hearing the noise of the muskets, at once returned and went on board the ship. He landed again next morning, the 9th, with his marines, and again faced a body of hostile people across the river. To words called out in the Tahitian tongue they answered only with flourished weapons and a dance of war; but they understood Tupaia perfectly when he spoke, and after some parley first one unarmed man, then twenty or thirty more with their weapons, swam over. All were given presents, but, unsatisfied and truculent, tried to snatch the English weapons, and one of them getting the hanger which Green the astronomer carried, refused to give it up. This action, Tupaia's warnings, and the approach of other Maoris, alarmed Cook, who ordered the man to be fired at; he fell mortally wounded. The others retired to a rock in the middle of the river, but before they retreated altogether came back for the dead man's weapons, in spite of the small shot which wounded three more. Friendly contact seemed impossible; the water in the river was salt; so Cook re-embarked with the intention of rowing round the bay in search of fresh water, 'and if possible to surprise some of the natives and to take them on board and by good treatment and presents endeavour to gain their friendship'. In the afternoon therefore he rowed round the head of the bay, but a heavy surf put landing out of the question. Seeing two canoes coming in from sea he tried to intercept one of them, according to his plan; they fled, and he had a musket discharged over the heads of their occupants, thinking that they would either jump overboard or surrender. Instead, they turned round, seized their weapons and attacked the boat. The English were forced to fire, two or three Maoris were killed and one wounded, while three who did jump overboard, all young, were picked up. It was a bad beginning in a new country, and Cook was unhappy. 'I am aware that most humane men who have not experienced page 28things of this nature will cencure my conduct in fireing upon the people in this boat, nor do I my self think that the reason I had for seizing upon her will att all justify me, and had I thought that they would have made the least resistance I would not have come near them, but as they did I was not to stand still and suffer either my self or those that were with me to be knocked on the head.' Banks too was unhappy: 'Thus ended the most disagreeable day my life has yet seen,' he wrote in his journal, 'black be the mark for it and heaven send that such may never return to embitter future reflection.'
In spite of their alarming experience, the three Maori youths were surprisingly cheerful and ate voraciously. The following morning another landing was made at the original place, both to cut wood and to put the prisoners ashore. They were unwilling to leave, saying that they would fall into the hands of their enemies. One man, out of about two hundred who assembled, came across the river to receive presents, and Cook then retired to the ship to avoid any further quarrel. In the afternoon the youths were put ashore again, and walked off with their countrymen; and early next morning, 11 October, the Endeavour stood out of the bay. Cook had had little enough chance to explore the land, and he called the place Poverty Bay,1 'because it afforded us no one thing we wanted'; the south-west point he named Young Nick's Head, after the surgeon's boy who first saw the land. The smoke inland argued that the country was well inhabited, and Cook designed to follow the coast south to 40° or 41° and then, if the prospect was not encouraging, to return to the northward.
There was no wind in the afternoon, and while the ship lay becalmed several canoes came off and after some hesitation paddled alongside. Some of the natives had heard of the treatment given the three youths and came on board to trade their paddles for Tahitian cloth—one group even offered to sell their canoe. Three men stayed on the ship till canoes came again the next morning; when these approached only with caution,
1 He was first inclined to call it Endeavour Bay. In the Mitchell Library, Sydney, there are a few sheets of a draft log or journal, in Cook's handwriting, covering 9 October-27 November 1769. In the entry for Wednesday, 11 October, the name Endeavour is scratched out and Poverty inserted. On the other hand, there is no sign of this change of mind in Cook's holograph journal of the voyage—now in the Commonwealth National Library at Canberra—which was written up later.
their occupants were told by the three visitors that the English did not eat men—from which it appeared that the natives might be cannibals. This was off the flat headland which Cook called Cape Table, seven leagues south of Poverty Bay; from here he found the land trended south-south-west. Following the line of the coast, he named the Isle of Portland, 'on account of its very great resemblance to Portland in the English Channell', and hauling round the south end of the island found himself in another bay, a very large one. A number of canoes came off, full of warlike men, but as Cook thought his own boats might have to go ahead sounding—he was for the moment in shoal water—he was forced to dismiss them with a gun fired wide. Two other canoes approached later, but would not come alongside. The land near the shore was moderately high, with white cliffs and sandy beaches; inland it seemed hilly and even mountainous, though well wooded, and 'hath all the appearences of a very pleasent and fertile country'. There were canoes and houses; there was however no harbour or watering-place, and it was this that Cook chiefly wanted. In the morning of 14 October, when the boats were hoisted out to search for fresh water, a number of canoes came out to the ship; they were again very hostile and Cook had again to fire wide; only one canoe out of nine seemed friendly. To avoid trouble he refrained from his search. By noon he was off a similar bay marked by a moderately high bluff and a large lagoon; inland flat wooded country ran up to a chain of mountains patched with snow. Next day, abreast of a point which was at once the south-west limit of this small bay and of the great bay in which the ship had been for three days, the natives proved their hostility once more. Several canoes came out first and sold 'some stinking fish, however it was such as they had, and we were glad to enter into traffick with them upon any terms'. Then a man in another canoe cheated Cook of a piece of red cloth; the canoes all put off but returned in a short time to offer further fish. A Tahitian boy, the servant of Tupaia, was over the side of the Endeavour
; he was suddenly snatched into a canoe, which at once made off. The ship opened fire, two or three more natives were killed, and in the confusion the boy leapt into the water and was rescued. From this scene Cook followed the coast once more south-south-west, keeping about a league offshore. The great page 30
bay he named Hawke's Bay, after the eminent person who was First Lord of the Admiralty; the cape he called Cape Kidnappers. The bluff he had noticed the day before was Ahuriri Bluff; the lagoon was Port Ahuriri; and the chain of mountains was the Ruahines. The weather remained fine; all down the coast were signs of habitation, with fires visible at night; but Cook could not find what he wanted. 'Seeing no likelyhood of meeting with a harbour', he wrote, 'and the face of the Country Vissibly altering for the worse I thought that the standing farther to the South would not be attended with any Valuable discovery, but would be loosing of time which might be better employ'd and with a greater probability of Success in examining the Coast to the Northward.' It was a sound instinct; a high point of land off which the course was changed was called Cape Turnagain; and in the afternoon of 17 October the Endeavour
was sailing north again.
Two days later, between the Isle of Portland and Table Cape, five natives came on board, thoroughly friendly and insistent on remaining all night; and now for some days more Cook found nothing to complain of in the behaviour of the Maoris, who came off to the ship continually. He passed the 'remarkable head' he called Gable End Foreland, and then met with a series of bays, in one of which he anchored. He wanted water, and to see a little of the country, before going further north. This was 'Tegadoo'1
or Anaura Bay. The natives were grateful for lengths of linen and for Tahitian cloth, but appeared to see no use for iron spikes or nails. It was difficult to get water casks off, because of the surf, but Cook stayed a day to allow Banks to collect among the flowering shrubs which here made the land beautiful; Banks and Solander themselves, seeking passage to the ship with some Maoris, unhandily overturned the canoe in the surf and got a thorough wetting. But they were unharmed, and such amicable relations were encouraging; and though the bay, thought Cook, did not have much to recommend it, there was plenty of 'wild sellery', and he was able to buy a few pounds of sweet potatoes. Next day, told by the Maoris of fresh water in another bay a little to the south, he put in there to 'form some connections' with them, for
1 Perhaps from te ngaru, the expression for the surf on the shore, not the bay itself.
the wind was contrary. This was 'Tolaga', or Uawa, Bay.1
There was plenty of wood and water, wild celery and 'scurvy grass', and a shrub very suitable for making brooms—no doubt manuka; the natives traded fish for cloth and beads and nails; Cook could make exact observations with Green the astronomer to settle the latitude and longitude; he was able to sound the bay, and even to go a little distance into the country. The celery he had boiled every morning with portable soup and oatmeal for his men's breakfast, as he thought it very wholesome and 'a great Antiscorbutick'.2
At this bay Cook, able to observe at leisure for the first time, noticed the absence of any animals except dogs—though he was told of rats; the neatness of the native gardens; the multitude of the trees and plants and birds. His own sense of justice is clear in one sentence of his journal. Cloth from Tahiti and Raiatea the Maoris 'Valued more than any thing we could give them and as every one in the Ship were provided with some of this sort of Cloth, I suffer'd every body to purchase what ever they pleased without limitation, for by this means I knew that the natives would not only sell, but get a good price for every thing they brought'. He stayed in the bay five days thus usefully, without any untoward incident, and put to sea again early on 29 October.
The following day he rounded East Cape and the little island which lies off it. Running along shore he was struck by a visible improvement in the fertility of the land. He named Hicks's Bay, 'because Lieutenant Hicks
was the first who discover'd it'; Cape Runaway, where a number of canoes, the heavily armed guise of which boded no goodwill, were scared off in
1 The bay is of course still called Tolaga. The name may be derived from the Maori tauranga, an anchorage, or an abiding place. The corresponding Samoan word (to take another Polynesian tongue) was taulaga. Europeans had great difficulty with the Polynesian indeterminate r and l.
2 Cook's care in combating scurvy was as marked on this voyage as on his later ones, but was rather overshadowed by the fearful sickness that fell on his men at Batavia, towards the end of the voyage. He lost no opportunity of collecting edible greenstuffs, in which no doubt he was helped materially by Banks and Solander. 'Scurvy grass' was a term applied to more than one plant, but mainly to the cruciferous Lepidium oleraceum, known as long as it lasted as 'Captain Cook's scurvy grass'—the Maori nau. This was once very common on New Zealand coasts, but has been eaten off by sheep and cattle. The wild celery is a genuine celery, Apium prostratum. 'Portable soup', a sort of meat-extract, was made up in thin cakes, and was being hopefully experimented with. Some examples of these cakes still exist in the United Services Museum in Whitehall.
a hurry to shore with a round shot fired high; Mount Edgcumbe —possibly after the well-known landmark at Plymouth, possibly after the admiral who was then the Plymouth commander-in-chief—and White Island, from its appearance. Cook had now, at the beginning of November, sailed into the Bay of Plenty, which he named not for the supplies he himself got but for its well cultivated and populated aspect. The plantations were many and regularly laid out, in one place he counted between forty and fifty canoes drawn up on the beach, and fortified villages were numerous and impressive even when seen from out at sea. Tupaia had wrong-headedly insisted that these were 'Mories or places of Worship': Cook himself now began to understand the real nature of the Maori pa.
In this bay, too, the first double canoe seen in New Zealand, a large one full of people, came out from Whale Island or Motuhora. The habits of the natives however were not very encouraging. Some who brought lobsters and mussels were inclined to take what they were given and make no return; the people in one canoe even seized linen hanging over the ship's side, which they refused to give up. On this Cook fired a musket or two and finally his useful four-pounders, which sent them off with defiant brandishing of their paddles. Other canoes either began or ended their parleys with a volley of stones. Nor were such bellicose persons the only danger—Cook, on the afternoon of 1 November finding the water shoal rather rapidly, tacked and spent the night in the shelter of 'Mowtohora', to have his wisdom confirmed in the morning, when he discovered rocks ahead of the ship both level with and below the water. As he sailed west the country lost its fertile appearance: 'Continent appeard this morn barren and rocky but many Islands were in sight', noted down Banks on 3 November. One island, under which the ship had again to shelter for a night, Cook called the Mayor; a group further north, most of them merely great rocks, the Court of Aldermen—because of fancied resemblances to the fat and thin among that worshipful London body. There were no plantations to be seen.
Early on the afternoon of the 3rd, three canoes came off from the land, and 'after parading about a little while they darted two pikes at us'. A musket shot dismissed them. These canoes were merely dug out of large trees, without ornament, page 33and their occupants were almost all quite naked. An hour later a large inlet was seen, where Cook determined to anchor. The ship was accompanied inside the entrance by several canoes, which hung about till dark; 'and before they went away they were so generous as to tell us that they would come back and attack us in the morning, but some of them paid us a Visit in the night, thinking no doubt but what they should find all hands asleep, but as soon as they found their mistake they went off.' They came again in the morning full of heavily armed men, but there was no attack; after 'Parading about' the ship for three hours, sometimes trading 'and at other times tricking of us', they dispersed, with a musket ball through one canoe, fired to show them the power of English weapons. Cook took two boats to sound the bay and to fix on a more convenient anchoring place; he refused to be enticed on shore, and in the afternoon anchored the Endeavour a mile inside the south point of the bay, and a mile and a half off a little river, into which the boats could go at low water. His purpose in putting into this bay was to find first a good harbour, and second, a place where he could observe the transit of Mercury, which was due on 9 November, and would enable him to fix the longitude correctly. Mercury Bay he called his harbour before he left; the beautiful half-moon of yellow sand off which he anchored is now known as Cook Bay. Here he was to remain for eleven days, carrying out his observations, recruiting his men on fresh food, getting in wood and water, and paying great attention to the life of the Maoris about the bay. It was the first such pleasant interlude since leaving the Society Islands.
The weather was not invariably good, but the transit was duly observed by Green, assisted by Cook. The ship was heeled and its sides scrubbed. The stream was remarkable for the immense quantity of rock-oysters and other shell-fish found in it, so much so that Cook called it Oyster River (the native name was Purangi). There was plenty of the wild celery that he was so fond of collecting for a green vegetable, and though the ship's boats were not highly successful with their fishing the natives brought for trade a great deal of a sort of large mackerel, 'as page 34good as ever was eat'. Up another river at the head of the bay, which Cook and Banks spent a day exploring, there were not merely shell-fish, but 'pretty plenty of wild Fowl'; and after some months of sea diet Banks found an open-air dinner of broiled shags delicious eating. The Maoris, after their initial hostility, proved very friendly, except for some newcomers who arrived alongside the ship while Cook and his first lieutenant Hicks were on shore with Green on the business of observation. They made no attempt on the ship—probably, Cook thought, having been warned by natives already there—but one man cheated Gore, the second lieutenant, of a piece of cloth, the men in the canoe pushing off and shaking their paddles in their usual gesture of defiance. The incensed Gore fired a musket at the thief and killed him—an act which Cook rather sorrowfully records: 'we had now', he writes, 'been long enough acquainted with these People to know how to chastise trifling faults like this without taking away their lives.' It was the last life sacrificed while the Endeavour was on the coast of New Zealand.
Those natives about the beach off which the ship was anchored seemed a not very prosperous people, without fixed abodes, sleeping under trees and improvised shelters, probably members of a tribe that came to the shore only to fish and take shell-fish, living for the rest on fern-root. Their canoes and other possessions were poorer than those Cook had seen further south. Nor was the country about the bay fertile or cultivated, though on the north side, near its head, there was a pa which Cook examined one day with great interest. Up the river he and Banks had explored—called the River of Mangroves from the number of those trees growing about it—on a cragged peninsula there were the remains of a fort which he had already admired; it had been burnt, probably taken and destroyed by an enemy, so that in both defence and attack the Maori must be a redoubtable warrior. But every point on which there was settled life seemed to be fortified; one small pa clinging to a few yards of rock seemed to the enthusiastic soul of Mr. Banks 'the most beautifuly romantick thing I ever saw'. (The age of sensibility was coming in.) The principal fortress stood abrupt on a high promontory, in some places quite inaccessible, defended by double ditches (one twenty-four feet deep) and rows of picketing, with fighting stages, intercommunicating page 35outworks, and a strong palisade of stakes right round the whole hill-top village—a 'very strong and well choose post and where a small number of resolute men might defend themselves a long time against a vast superior force, Arm'd in the manner as these People are'. Nor was this, though seen so close, at all the most formidable of the fortified places which Cook had seen; they were frequent, as he had already noticed, upon the coast further south. A warlike as well as ingenious people this must be. Yet they seemed to have no bows and arrows; they had spears or lances of more than one sort, the short truncheon or club of wood or bone or stone called the patu-patu, well contrived to knock out brains; they had long barbed darts, and they threw stones; and against the native lance, Cook reckoned, nothing European save the musket might avail. On the beach he saw what he wrongly thought was iron sand, indicating the presence of iron ore not far inland; but iron the Maoris had no idea of using, and preferred the most trifling thing that could be given them to nails or any tool. They had been for the greater part of the ship's stay very friendly, in spite of the unpropitious beginning, and of what Cook deemed their poverty and ignorance; and of the opportunity thus given for observation both Cook and Banks made full use.
They were not the only observers; it was to this visit to Mercury Bay that we owe the clearest Maori account of Cook. There was a small boy called Te Horeta, who more than eighty years afterwards, when white men came to Coromandel in search of gold, told them of that famous event in his youth. The great ship came to Whitianga: what nature of beings could direct it? Perhaps they were goblins. They got into a small boat: 'Yes, it is so; these people are goblins; their eyes are at the back of their heads; they pull on shore with their backs to the land to which they are going.' They pointed a walking-stick at a shag and there was thunder and lightning and the shag fell dead: at that the children were terrified. But they were benevolent goblins, they gave food: a substance like punga-punga or pumice-stone, very hard but sweet; and a fat food, perhaps blubber of whale or flesh of man, but it was salt and nipped the throat. Some light is hereby cast on the nature of ship's biscuit and salt pork. They asked the boys to go with the warriors to see the ship, and though some were afraid, Te page 36Horeta went with two of his friends. The warriors exchanged mats for European goods, and said 'ka pai'—'very good'—and the white men said 'ka pai', and everybody laughed. There was one man, clearly he was the lord of the goblins, of noble appearance, who seldom spoke, but who got a chief to draw a map of the country with charcoal on the deck of the ship; 'he was a very great man, and came to us—the children—and patted our cheeks, and gently touched our heads'. But the boys did not walk about, they were afraid lest they should be bewitched, they sat still and looked; and the man who was so great and noble gave Te Horeta a nail, and Te Horeta said 'ka pai', and they laughed. Te Horeta used it on his spear, and to make holes in the side boards of canoes; he had it for a god but one day his canoe capsized and he lost it, and though he dived he could not find it. This lord gave Te Horeta's people two handfuls of potatoes, and they planted and tended them; they were the first people to have potatoes in this country. And the goblins went away, and Te Horeta, we may believe, was sorry but henceforth distinguished among small boys; and he became a great chief.
Before departing Cook cut upon a tree near his watering-place the ship's name and the date, hoisted the English colours and formally took possession of the place for George III. His departure was delayed for two days by bad weather; but on the morning of 15 November, escorted by a large number of canoes laden with men, women and children, he left the bay and steered north again. On the morning of the 18th he was off Cape Colville (named after the admiral under whom he had served in Newfoundland) and noticed land both south-west and north-west; fear of losing the mainland made him follow the direction of the coast from where he was. Just round the cape there occurred what had become almost a ritual proceeding—two large canoes came out, and hung about the ship some time, until their occupants began to throw stones into it; on which Cook fired a musket-ball through one of the canoes and they both made off. As he sailed next morning down the east side of the gulf in which he now was there were more canoes. Their people had heard of the ship from the other side of the peninsula, they came on board without hesitation, and they departed well pleased with the gifts which they page break
Cook Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound
received. Cook, finding the water shoal, anchored about nine miles from the head of the bay, and set out at daylight next morning, the 20th, with Banks, Solander and Tupaia to examine the country from the pinnace and the longboat. They rowed into a river and up it for twelve or fourteen miles; near the entrance they were received at a native village with open arms, and landed again at noon, having decided to go no farther, to examine the great trees which stood on the banks. They were, it appears from Cook's description, kahikatea or white pine; one ran up straight as an arrow eighty-nine feet from ground to branch, and it was not the tallest; it would make the finest plank in the world, judged Banks, rather rashly. (A small tree that was cut down to look at closely must, on the other hand, to judge from a later description given by Banks, have been a matai.) In the afternoon the explorers named the river the Thames ('on account of its bearing some resemblance to that river in England'—for where there were no trees the banks were marshy like those of the Thames, and there was a strong flood tide like that of the English river) and set off on their return past still friendly Maoris; but meeting the flood tide and a strong breeze as they came to the sea they were forced to anchor and did not reach the ship till seven the following morning. That afternoon, 21 November, Cook turned the ship north; the combination of tide, calm, and stormy rainy weather, however, kept him from drawing level with Cape Colville again till the 24th. The ship was frequently at anchor, and he used one interval to land on the western shore, finding there nothing of note. In his absence Lieutenant Hicks had a native flogged for theft: so far was this from displeasing his fellows that he was beaten again by an old man in his canoe.
Bad weather made very doubtful the view of a large part of the western coast, so that Cook could not lay it down with confidence; he knew he was not out of sight of the mainland in general, but whether he passed islands lying before it he did not know. He did indeed do so, and thus had no glimpse of the fine harbour behind them, the Waitemata, where the city of Auckland was in time to rise up. Of the rest of the neighbouring country his impressions were favourable, in spite of bad weather—who indeed could fail to be struck with the noble page 38groves of timber? There was good anchorage; he noticed what we now call Coromandel Harbour; and the natives were as strong and well-made and active as any that had been met. They painted their whole bodies with red ochre and oil, their canoes were large and well built, and once more finely carved. The whole deep firth, as well as the river itself, Cook called the River Thames.
He stood north-west along the coast, inside the fringe of islands, naming the Barrier Isles, Hen and Chickens, and Poor Knights; anchoring in Bream Bay, where upwards of a hundred 'bream'—the excellent tarakihi—were caught, and getting a good view of the country. No natives were seen, but there were fires in the night. Next day, 25 November, several canoes came alongside from villages now visible, and two chiefs who boarded the ship received presents. The persons in the canoes then becoming troublesome, a few shots were fired, 'but as no harm was intended them none they received unless they happend to over heat themselves in pulling a shore'. There were other canoes next morning, and a good many natives on board; their behaviour was 'tollerable friendly', but they would not trade. In the afternoon a remarkable cape was passed, with a high round hillock at its extremity and a mile off it a small high rock pierced right through with a large hole, so that it looked like the arch of a bridge; Cook called it Cape Brett, in honour of Sir Piercey Brett, one of the Lords of the Admiralty—the pierced hole, he fancied, making the name singularly appropriate. They were days of gentle breezes and clear weather, and Cook seems, indeed, to have been in good spirits. West of the cape he came to another deep bay, in which there were a number of islands. Islands and mainland were well inhabited, and a crowd of four or five hundred came off to the ship. These were a handsome people, their black hair combed up and stuck with white feathers, some of them with 'Backsides tattou'd' like their distant relatives in the tropics, though few with marks on the face like those in the south; the chiefs wore their finely woven cloth and dogskin cloaks with an air. Cook passed the bay and got a little north of the Cavalli Islands, so called from the fish he bought there; then, losing ground steadily before a strong westerly wind, he bore away for the bay again and anchored in shallow water south-west of one of the islands, page 39Motu Arohia. This was on 29 November; it was 6 December before he was once more out at sea.
Off the Cavalli Islands the people had flung stones, and in the bay their behaviour was for a while intimidating. A great number assembled as soon as the ship anchored; a few were allowed on board and given some trifles of cloth and nails, but before long their companions tried to carry off the buoy attached to the ship's anchor. Not even the firing of muskets made them desist until one man was hurt by small shot; and then, by way of experiment, a 'great Gun' was fired over their heads. This had some real effect, and they had to be enticed back to the ship, on their good behaviour, by Tupaia. In the afternoon the ship was moved into deeper water and Cook, Banks and Solander landed on the island. All the canoes immediately left the ship and also landed, and almost in a moment the party was surrounded by an armed and jostling crowd. Cook drew a line upon the sand, on which some of the natives began a war dance and others attempted to seize the ship's boats. This failing, they made two rushes which were repelled with small shot, and then, uncertain, seemed only to need some one to rally them again. In the meantime Hicks, seeing the dangerous scramble, swung the ship round to bring its broadside to bear, and fired the four-pounders over their heads. This dispersed the crowd; after an interval Cook, seeing some who had taken refuge in a cave, made friends with three of them; and then, going to a different part of the island, he was met by others, now become 'as meek as lambs'. The boats were loaded with celery, and return made to the ship with the intention of sailing next morning. But the wind fell, it was impossible to get to sea, and Cook took soundings of the harbour instead. He also had three sailors flogged for digging up potatoes from one of the Maori plantations. The natives flocked about the ship and some came on board, dealing in odds and ends 'very fair and friendly'. Very friendly also were those on the south side of the bay, where Cook and the botanists landed to inspect the country, and on the island of Motu-rua, where a party went for water and to cut grass for the sheep on board; friendly also everywhere when Cook, Banks and Solander landed, inviting them on shore, selling quantities of fish, and showing them over a pa—a 'neat compact place', well situated and well fortified page 40as usual. It was a green and pleasant part of the country, diversified with small hills and valleys, highly cultivated in many places, and certainly more thickly populated than any tract hitherto seen. There was plenty of fish of many kinds, in catching which both by hook and line and with the net the Maori put the European very much to shame. So many islands were there that Cook called this port the Bay of Islands; these made more than one excellent harbour, and he could affirm with certainty, for future comers, that the bay afforded good anchorage and every kind of refreshment. But time forbade the making of an accurate survey—an omission which was later repaired by a variety of ships, when the Bay of Islands became the favourite port of call for vessels in New Zealand waters. Early in the morning on 5 December, all that was possible being done, the anchor was weighed, but the wind was too little and too variable to take the ship out of the bay till next morning; indeed the tide or the current nearly carried her ashore on one of the islands. She was towed clear. An hour later she struck a sunken rock, fortunately without damage. It was thought for a moment to be a whale, and Whale Rock it remains.
Now began a period which must have tried the temper and the patience of any commander. It shows Cook as a discoverer at his best. One of his tasks was to fix the position of the country as precisely as possible, and he was determined to ignore no essential point. He was facing almost a month of weather that varied from merely contrary winds to furious storm, but the observations he had set himself to make he made with an accuracy which for ordinary men would have been remarkable under the most favourable conditions. For ten days he tacked off and on up the last hundred miles of the eastern coast with the wind almost continually from the west and the north. Canoes came out from the Cavalli Islands, and on the 9th, in a calm, from the coast near Doubtless Bay; and from these a little fish was bought. Although the bottom of Doubtless Bay could just be seen, the wind forbade a visit. Next day, notes Banks, the wind was 'as hard hearted as ever', but the behaviour of the ship was 'much to the credit of our old Collier'; indeed the Whitby-built collier was now to demonstrate all her virtues as a vessel of discovery. Round the headland called Knuckle page 41Point was the beginning of another bay—Sandy or Rangaunu Bay—which marked the southern extremity of the narrow stretch of low land running up to the triangle in the north, 'a desart shore' with the solitary high hill or hump Cook named Mount Camel. No place on earth could look more barren than these narrow ridges of sand lying parallel to the straight coast. On the nearest ridge behind the beach were a few shrubs, but the absence of green behind that persuaded Cook—and rightly so—that beyond was the western sea, though he underestimated the distance. Even here, however, two villages were seen, and a few canoes, which tried but failed to come up with the ship; and in the bay was good anchorage.
On the morning of 13 December, after a rainy night, the gales began, and the ship was out of sight of land for the first time since she had been upon the coast. A squall split the main topsail, the start of many days of hard work for the sailmaker repairing torn and sorely-tried canvas. Luckily there were intervals of clear weather. At noon on the 14th the Endeavour was north-east but in sight of a point of land which had been seen before, and was now taken to be the northern extremity of the country, as a heavy swell coming from the west argued the impossibility of any covering of land. Forced east and northwest, Cook got by the 19th within three or four miles of the point again, close enough to examine it and fix its position with great accuracy. It was North Cape, the north-east point of his Sandy Bay, and upon it a pa and a few inhabitants were seen. A strong easterly current near the cape was also against the ship, which, noted Cook the day before, had 'not gained one inch to windward this last 24 hours'. By the 21st at noon they were out of sight of land again, though the weather was clear, and next day were thirty-eight leagues north of the North Cape. The next four days gave much pleasanter weather; on the 24th the Three Kings was recognized, and its position fixed. It was well that the weather had improved; Banks, with possibly a more festal mind than Cook's, made the entry in his journal for the following day, 'Christmas day, our Goose pye was eat with great approbation and in the Evening all hands were as Drunk as our forefathers usd to be upon the like occasion'. The geese thus consumed were gannets. On the 26th, by Cook's observation, they were in the latitude of the Bay of page 42Islands and only about thirty leagues westward of the longitude of the North Cape, yet no land was in sight: the northern part of the country must indeed be narrow. In the afternoon they had a fresh gale which in thirty-six hours rose to hurricane force—'a meer hurricane attended with rain and the Sea run prodigious high'. Twice the ship had to be brought to for some hours, and the gale abated merely to renew itself; the Endeavour was blown to the west, then got to the north-east and crossed her previous course. The wind was now from the south-west, and the south-west sea ran so high that she went bodily to leeward. The course was a series of tacks and zigzags, but Cook was determined to get a sight of Cape Maria van Diemen and fix its position. He saw it at last about eighteen miles off on the morning of the 30th, and kept it in sight for almost three days, having in sight on 1 January 1770, indeed, the North Cape also across the flat peninsula. His latitude for Cape Maria van Diemen was only two minutes out; his longitude only four.1 He could now make south, and did so after the comment: 'I cannot help thinking but what will appear a little strange that at this season of the year we should be three weeks in geting 10 Leagues to the westward and five weeks in geting 50 Leagues for so long it is sence we pass'd Cape Brett but it will hardly be credited that in the midest of summer and in the Latitude of 35° such a gale of wind as we have had could have happen'd, which for its strength and continuence was such as I hardly was ever in before. Fortunately at this time we were at a good distance from land otherwise it might have proved fatal to us.'
Nor was the gale yet over, nor the struggle to keep the coast in view. On 2 January there was no land in sight, and a wind blowing right on shore and 'a high rowling Sea' from the west made it dangerous to go too near. But edging in to the southeast the ship on the morning of the 4th was about five leagues off what looked like a bay or inlet; Cook sailed two leagues
1 The words of Admiral Wharton, like Cook a seaman and a hydrographer, may here very well be quoted for the fireside reader. Cook's calculations, he says, are extraordinarily accurate, 'seeing that the ship was never close to the Cape, and the observations were all taken in bad weather. . . . The persistence with which Cook clung to this point until he could resume his exploration and examination of the coast is very characteristic of the man. He would not willingly miss a mile of it, nor did he.' And again, 'The mingled audacity and caution of Cook's navigation off this coast must awake the admiration of every seaman.'—Wharton, Captain Cook's Journal, pp. 176, n. 1, 178.
closer in, and deciding that he had been deceived called the spot False Bay—it was in fact the opening of Kaipara Harbour. He had missed a good deal of the coast, though sailing northwest again he could judge very well its direction; what he could see wore a most desolate and inhospitable aspect, and his chart of this part of the country bears the inscription The Desart Coast.
The prevailing wind and the great sea must make it very dangerous: 'this I am so fully sencible of that was we once clear of it I am determind not to come so near again if I can possible avoide it unles we have a very favourable wind indeed'. That afternoon there were renewed squalls with rain, and the south-west gale and swell continuing Cook stood to the north-west still. It was the last of the storm, however; on the 6th the weather was clear and pleasant, he was able to run a short distance north-west, and at daylight next morning was again in sight of Cape Maria van Diemen, eight or nine leagues off. The following noon, south once more, in gentle breezes from the north-east, Hokianga Harbour was seen; though Cook, not close enough for an accurate view, inclined to think that what seemed a break in the coast was merely low-lying land. On the 9th he was a second time abreast of Kaipara, and next day, a good stretch south-east, found the land green and tree-covered. He named Woody Head, Gannet Island, and Albatross Point, and noticed the shelter against southerly winds provided by Kawhia Harbour, though he gave it no name.1
In the evening the southernmost land in sight was a very high mountain shaped like the Peak of Teneriffe; for the next three days it was sometimes in sight towering above the clouds, sometimes hidden in dark cloudy weather. It was 'of a prodigious height and its top is cover'd with everlasting snow', and Cook named it in honour of the Earl of Egmont, an earlier First Lord. The flat country about the mountain was verdurous and wood-covered; the rounded promontory at its seaward foot was also called after Egmont. A fire on shore at night proved that the
1 The better progress Cook was now making may be judged from his entries of distance run in 24 hours: 28 December, N. 29 miles; 29 December, E. by N. 29 miles; 8 January, S.E. 53 miles; 9 January, S.E. 69 miles; 10 January, S.E. 69 miles. The Endeavour was never at the best of times a fast sailer; in fresh S.W. gales, standing to the N.W. 'with a prest sail' she did on 5 January 102 miles; next day she did only 8. Such were the chances of eighteenth-century exploration. There might well be a special dispensation for sailors' language.
country was inhabited. Past the cape the direction of the eastern coast was still followed, until early on the morning of the 14th land was seen bearing south-west by south. For this land Cook now made, well to the west of Kapiti, called by him Entry Island. In the evening he was two leagues off, apparently on the south-west side of a deep and wide inlet which ran round to Cape Egmont, but the bottom of which could not be seen; he was, in fact, in the great 'bay' where Tasman and Visscher had had such a stormy time a hundred and thirty years before. The land was high and broken and the shore formed a number of bays. Into one of these Cook resolved to go; for the ship was very foul and called for small repairs, and he was once more in need of wood and water. After plying on and off all night, he stood in next morning for an inlet which ran into the land south-west, between a reef of rocks lying off its north-west point and some rocky islands off the other. The tide, or a current, carried the ship within two cables' length of the north-west shore, but with the help of the boats she got clear, in sight of a startled sea-lion which rose up twice near by. A canoe was seen crossing the bay, and a village on the point of an island a few miles within the entrance. It was clear settled weather; there was little wind, and for some time the boats towed the ship; she hauled close round the south-west end of the island before a crowd of natives all in arms, and at 2 o'clock in the afternoon anchored in 'a very snug Cove', on the north-west side of the inlet facing the south-west end of the island. So came the Endeavour
to the calm and lovely little bay, clad in undying green, where Cook was so often in the future to find secure haven, which he called Ship Cove.
Scarcely had the ship moored than the natives were round her, heaving stones as usual. But conversation with Tupaia brought a few of them on board, to receive the ordinary presents. Next morning they were back again, bringing with them some 'stinking' fish—that is, dried fish, one of their ordinary articles of diet—which Cook in spite of his distaste bought to encourage traffic in provisions. Theft, not trade, however, appeared to be their object, and as they seemed likely to prove quarrelsome, page 45Cook fired some small shot at one of the principal offenders, keeping them at a proper distance while the ship's company were too busy to counter constant interference, and perhaps attack. After this relations were most amicable. In the cove was an excellent fresh-water stream, and as for wood 'the land here is one intire forest'. The first afternoon a net was hauled from the shore and gathered in three hundredweight of fish. There was, then, all that was required for the primary need of refreshment, and on the two following days the ship was careened1 and her sides scrubbed and tarred. The three weeks spent in the cove were hardly a time of leisured ease—there was caulking to be done and rigging to be repaired; water-casks needed attention from the cooper; a forge was set up, and the armourers and carpenters were busied securing the tiller, which had often been in danger of breaking; there were stones to be loaded for ballast, casks to fill, wood to cut; and there was always fishing, to maintain the supply of fresh food, grass to gather for the sheep, powder to dry. It is pleasant to add that on the morning of Sunday, 21 January, the whole ship's company were given leave to go ashore at the watering-place 'to amuse themselves as they thought proper', and that it was a fine day. There were few enough such interludes in the eighteenth-century sailor's life. Pleasant also is it to note (we learn it from Lieutenant Hicks) that while the Endeavour remained in Ship Cove, so abundant was fish that there was served neither beef nor pork, those aged companions of the sea, nor the long-stored flour, 'and very few Pease'. But Cook, in his passion for health, maintained the breakfasts of portable soup and wild celery.
It was indeed a harbour to ravish the mind of man. While Hicks, as chief officer, superintended the manifold operations in the cove, Mr. Banks and Dr. Solander were free to embark on the observation of nature and the accumulation of specimens —though on their expeditions the thickness of the woods and of the climbing plants hindered them much—or to accompany the captain on his numerous excursions about the inlet and on its shores. The country was all high hills and deep valleys, the trees were magnificent, 'fit for all purposes excepting Ships Masts', for which the wood was too hard and heavy. There
1 This is Cook's word; but the ship was not 'careened' in the strict sense—i.e. laid ashore. She was heeled on each side where she lay at anchor.
were plenty of shags and a few other wild fowl, which contributed to the larder; and there were those other birds, the description of which makes so charming and eternally fresh a page in Banks's journal. 'This morn', he writes on 17 January, 'I was awakd by the singing of the birds ashore from whence we are distant not a quarter of a mile, the numbers of them were certainly very great who seemd to strain their throats with emulation perhaps; their voices were certainly the most melodious wild musick I have ever heard, almost imitating small bells but with the most tuneable silver sound imaginable to which maybe the distance was no small addition. On enquiring of our people I was told that they had observd them ever since we have been here, and that they begin to sing at about 1 or 2 in the morn and continue till sunrise, after which they are silent all day like our nightingales.' Nor was the Maori less interesting than this shy herald of the dawn, and Mr. Banks could turn with equal fascination from birds to cannibals. The people seemed poorer here than in the country farther north, their canoes were mean and unornamented, they had no cultivations nor anything to sell except fish. 'I suppose they live intirely upon fish dogs and Enemies', wrote Banks; but they also lived on fern roots, scorched in the fire and pounded to expose the pith. There were hardly more than three or four hundred of them, reckoned Cook; but poor as they were, there was this to be said for their common sense, that they very readily took nails as exchange for fish, and unlike their fellows in the north, instead of setting value on paper (which spoiled when wet) or native cloth from Tahiti, 'shew'd an extraordinary fondness' for English broadcloth and red kersey. Here the custom of the native women was noticed, as it had already been at Mercury Bay, of cutting themselves about the face and body till they streamed with blood, as a sign of mourning. And here also there was irrefragable proof of the cannibalism that was already suspected, and had drawn the dreadful interest of all curious inquirers into the behaviour of mankind. The day after the ship anchored Cook and Banks went in the pinnace to another cove near by, where they met a group of natives who had evidently been lately eating human flesh: Cook got from them the bone of a forearm, quite fresh and recently picked. They had a few days before, they said, taken page 47
a canoe belonging to strangers or enemies—the words appeared synonymous—and killed and eaten the occupants; a woman whose floating body the pinnace had passed had been drowned in the fray. When Cook, to make more fully certain, said the bone was not a man's but a dog's, he was contradicted in both words and pantomime. Next morning, from natives alongside the ship, Banks got another bone of the same sort; 'and to shew us that they had eat the flesh they bit and naw'd the bone and draw'd it thro' their mouth and this in such a manner as plainly shew'd that the flesh to them was a dainty bit.' Thus wrote Cook. That it really was regarded 'as a dainty', however, the humane Mr. Banks was reluctant to believe. Later, three human hip-bones were found near a native oven; there were bones lying in the village on the island; while to add to the macabre, there were brought on view to the ship the preserved heads of four of the men recently killed—one of which Banks, science triumphing over tenderness, succeeded in buying to add to his natural history collection.
Even these matters, however, were secondary to Cook's main purpose of geographical discovery, and this he urged forward in more than one direction. The inlet of which Ship Cove formed part must, he thought, be not far from the Murderers' Bay of Tasman—which was in fact seventy miles to the west-north-west—but as he saw nothing of Tasman's bay, so he could learn nothing traditional of Tasman's visit. He made two excursions towards the sea, to survey the western shore of the inlet, met with an excellent harbour—perhaps Little Waikawa Bay—but saw no inhabitants or cultivated land to break the close covering of trees and bush. On 22 January, however, there was a more remarkable expedition. That morning Cook went in the pinnace in the opposite direction, to examine the head of the inlet. This could not be done: it ran a good twenty miles from Ship Cove, and there was more than one chance of taking a wrong direction; so, after rowing twelve or fifteen miles against the wind and seeing no probability of reaching an end, Cook landed at noon on the eastern side to take a higher view. Leaving Banks and Solander to botanize, he climbed with a sailor to the top of one of the hills.1
1 Cook appears to have rowed down to a point where Ruakaka Bay began to open up, with Dieffenbach Point and the entrance to Tory Channel ahead on his left. If one follows him not merely on the map, but on the spot, it seems likely that he climbed the steep hill called Kaitapeha, 1,268 feet, which would give him an excellent view. See Journals, I, p. 238, n. 4.
from this height he could not see up the inlet because of higher hills beyond, which were blocked by impenetrable bush. He was 'abundantly recompenced', however, for his climb: below was the inlet, but to the east lay open ocean, and from it a strait to that western sea which he had already traversed. The land on which he stood seemed to be merely a narrow ridge of very high hills, part of the south-west side of this strait; on the western side of the inlet the land stretched away as far as the eye could see. Tasman's great 'bay' was then a strait after all, as he had thought possible, and Visscher had thought probable. This was indeed an interesting discovery. Below also lay some islands which Cook had previously taken for part of the mainland, and behind these islands—Blumine and Pickersgill— he passed, examining the bays and coves, on the return journey to the ship. He thought it likely that the inlet led into the eastern sea; but on the 24th, visiting the pa
on the island first seen the afternoon of the ship's arrival, he learned that this was not so—it turned away to the westward. Two days later Cook, Banks and Solander made another 'excursion' into one of the bays on the eastern side;1
they ascended a very high hill, from which they saw the strait stretching full before them with the opposite shore about twelve miles away. There was haze in the south-east. 'However,' wrote Cook, 'I had now seen enough of this passage to convence me that there was the greatest probability in the world of its runing into the Eastern Sea as the distance of that Sea from this place cannot exceed 20 Leagues even to where we were, upon this I resolve'd after puting to sea to search this passage with the Ship.' On the top of the hill were a number of loose stones; of these the three men built a pyramid, and leaving in it some musket balls, small shot, beads, and other articles likely to last, went down the hill to find the boat's crew and Tupaia with several of the natives, 'seting in the most free and friendly manner immagineable'. Tupaia was indeed an invaluable companion.
The last of Cook's expeditions was on the 29th, to the mouth of the inlet, on the western point of which he landed. Climbing
1 Probably somewhere in East Bay.
a hill he had a view of the coast to the north-west and of an island about ten leagues off, which was the farthest land he could see in that direction. Between this island and the point where he was standing were other islands lying close to the shore, along which were many bays affording safe anchorage. The island Cook called Stephens, the point Jackson, after the two secretaries to the Admiralty. On top of this hill, before returning, he raised a pile of stones, as he had done on the eastern side, with a piece of an old pennant flying on top, and inside it a silver coin and some musket balls and beads. He was now almost ready to depart, and had the carpenter prepare two posts, with the ship's name and the date cut on them. One of these was set up at the watering-place, with the 'Union flag'1
hoisted on it; and next morning, 31 January, the other was taken over to the island, Motuara. Cook first visited the pa,
and through Tupaia explained that he wished to set up a mark on the island, in order to show any other ship that came to the inlet that the Endeavour
had already been there. No objection was made; the people even promised not to pull the post down. Every one in attendance was then handed a present, the old men in particular silver threepenny pieces, and spike nails with the broad arrow deeply cut in them—all things that might well be carefully preserved. In a very friendly atmosphere the post was carried up to the highest part of the island, on the southern end, fixed fast in the ground, and a flag hoisted. The inlet was then dignified with the name of Queen Charlotte's Sound, and with the lands adjacent formally taken possession of 'in the name and for the use of his Majesty'. The health of the amiable consort of King George III was drunk in a bottle of wine, and the empty bottle given to an old man, who was much pleased; and who subsequently, either through his own merits or as representative of the Maori race, was the commander's guest at dinner. While the post was being erected on the island Cook had had some geographical conversation with this elder, who was quite plain that a passage did run into the eastern sea. Cook 'had some conjectors' that the land southwest of the strait was an island and not a continent; he was informed that there were two 'Wannuaes', or islands, called Tovy-poenammu,
that might be circumnavigated in 'a few days,
1 i.e. not the present flag, but that of the Union of England and Scotland.
even four'; a third land lay on the eastern side of the strait, a large land called Aeheino Mouwe,
which could be sailed round only in many moons; the part directly bordering the strait was Teirawhitte.
How are we to interpret this? The 'Wannuaes' certainly were whenua,
lands or countries or districts, one of which must have been the island of Aropawa, on which Cook had already stood when he climbed the hill and saw the strait; and this was the island that could be circumnavigated in a few days.1
The other was Te Wai Pounamu,
the whole of what we call the South Island, 'the Water of Greenstone', because in the river-beds of its west coast was found the green stone of Maori weapons and ornaments. The second name has been a constant puzzle. The North Island was traditionally called Te Ika a Maui,
'the Fish of Maui'. Perhaps it was a variant of this, He hi no Maui,
'a thing fished up by Maui'; for Cook's renderings of Polynesian names are generally intelligible. Te rawhiti
meant the land to the east; Cook bestowed the name specifically on a cape.
Till the end of January there had been only one rainy day; on 1 February, however, there was such a storm that the hawser mooring the ship to the shore broke, and in the overflow of the stream ten water-casks were carried away and lost; while, noted Banks, 'Our poor little wild musicians were totaly disturbd' by the rain. When the weather cleared the wind was from the north, and departure was delayed. It was possible to spend some time fishing for amusement and collecting shells; but in the afternoon of the 5th the ship was warped out of the cove and got under sail. The wind then fell and it was necessary to anchor again just above Motuara. It was not till the following afternoon that Cook was out of the Sound and round Cape Koamaru, standing over eastward to get well into the strait before the ebb tide made. By seven o'clock he was four miles west of two small islands, the Brothers, the wind had fallen nearly calm, and the tide making out at about four or five knots, the ship was rapidly close upon one of the islands. She was saved within two cables' length of the rocks by a lucky slight change of direction in the tide, and by being brought to an anchor in seventy-five fathoms of water, with twice that
1 Cook, I think, got the story wrong. See the footnote on p. 243 of Journals, I, with its quotation from Pickersgill's journal.
length of cable out. About midnight the tide abated, and Cook made sail over for the eastern shore a short distance, till the wind freshening, he was able to sweep through the narrowest part of the strait on the next ebb tide, and stand away for the southernmost land in sight, south by west. Inland, to the south, he could see another 'prodegious high mountain', the white summit of Tapuaenuku. The southernmost point of Aeheino-mouwe he named Cape Pallisser,1
after the early patron and constant friend who had been almost his first commander in the navy. He was too far off to see the entrance to Port Nicholson; between Terawhiti and Palliser the land was 'tollerable high makeing in Table points', and the shore appeared to form two bays. In the afternoon of 7 February the ship was abreast of Cape Campbell, the south-eastern limit of the strait; but after she had steered along shore for some hours, a breeze from the south-west sprang up, and Cook, turning about, put the ship right before it. Some of the officers had suddenly caught, and exceeded, Cook's own scepticism; Aeheinomouwe might not be an island, they urged, a few leagues of the coast had not been examined, the land might turn away east between Palliser and Turnagain and become a continent after all. Cook had no such supposition in his mind, nevertheless to clear up every doubt he stood north-east, till on the 9th Turnagain was once more in sight, the continental school was confounded, and there was, if we may judge from the wording of Cook's journal, some quiet amusement. Off Cape Palliser three canoes paddled out to the ship, and natives who boarded it asked for nails, which they had heard of though they did not know their use—a sure proof, thought Cook, that these men must have relations with others as far north as Kidnappers as well as south to Queen Charlotte's Sound, where nails had also been in demand. Two other canoes came off from Castle Point (another of Cook's names), while the ship, having sighted the cape, was sailing south again, and there was a little trade.
On the 14th the Endeavour
was opposite the high snowy mountain which had been sighted a week before, and was now seen to lift itself from a whole great ridge almost as high, rising from the shore and running parallel to it south-west.
1 Palliser wrote his name both with two s's and one: after getting his baronetcy in 1773 he kept to one, hence our modern spelling.
In the afternoon, off the Kaikoura peninsula, four double canoes came out, but would not draw alongside, in spite of all Tupaia's persuasiveness; they had evidently never heard of the ship before, and shook their spears in a very threatening manner. Cook called the peninsula the 'Lookers on' after them —a name later transferred to the range of mountains inland. In the night he ran eleven leagues to the south-east, as some persons on the ship thought they had seen land in that direction; but there was none save that to the west. The weather was clear, with sometimes light breezes and calms; and Mr. Banks was able to go out light-heartedly in a small boat and shoot albatrosses for his collection—the Ancient Mariner
had not yet been written, and he had no sense of sin. He was indeed shortly to distinguish the country by presenting his name to part of it.
On the 16th land was seen apparently detached from the coast, and in the clear air of sunrise next morning this impression was confirmed, for the main coast of Tovy Poenammu lay 'open to the westward' of it; Banks's Island was accordingly the name here given. There was the opening of a bay or harbour near its south point; the surface was very broken and uneven, but smoke and people were seen.1
Possibly, by keeping close in with the coast of this 'island', as he made into the mainland again, Cook might have discovered his error; but the morning before, about the time the 'island' was sighted, Lieutenant Gore thought he saw land to the south-east. Cook was convinced that it was only a bank of clouds, and nothing was seen all day; but Gore remained steadfast in his opinion, so that all the 17th Cook put the matter to the proof by running southeast, and then during the night and next morning south by west. No sign of land was seen, and he therefore hauled to the westward—thinking, on the basis of what he had learnt at Queen Charlotte's Sound, that he must now be far enough south to get right round the island. But it was not to be
1 Banks Peninsula adjoins very low land, and Cook, after his detour to the south-east, had not come back close enough to the coast to see its exact nature before further land was sighted bearing S. by W. Other men have noted how exactly, from certain aspects, it resembles an island. Sailing south, outside the peninsula, and turning under it so as to come just past Akaroa harbour, Cook very naturally charted, as the coastline further west, the outline of the higher land in from the shore and the neck of the peninsula.
circumnavigated in four days, he had mistaken his information; and although Gore's wild goose chase had deprived him of forty or fifty miles of coastline it seemed likely that the land sighted again on the morning of the 19th was part of Tovy Poenammu. The land was low and flat near the shore, though hills stood up behind, and seemed at first sight barren.
The wind now veered to the south, and for four days, in weather that swung between calm and strong winds, sometimes dark and gloomy and with a head sea, the Endeavour
tacked in and out from the coast, losing ground about six leagues. At sunset on the 22nd the weather cleared, and the coast was seen more distinctly than before, a mountain range inland and one high peak visible. Whether indeed this was still Tovy Poenammu Cook was left to guess till he sailed up the continuous western coast, though certainly the country was larger than he had gathered from what he was told. Banks was out in a small boat again, shooting sea-birds; but a favourable breeze at last springing up and turning to a fresh gale which carried away two small spars, by the night of the 24th the ship was off the high bluff called Cape Saunders (in honour of the admiral under whom Cook had served at Quebec), from which the land trended away to the south-west. It was a green and woody land, and hilly; there was no sign of inhabitants. Although two or three bays north of the cape tempted Cook to land, he was anxious not to lose time, rather to push on. He reckoned without the weather. After 'whifling all round the Compass' from gale to calm, the wind went to the south-west on the evening of the 25th, and for six days there were hard gales. Sails split, and by the 28th the ship was 120 miles to the south and an even greater distance to the east; for a few hours Cook stood to the north and then to the south-west, as far as latitude 48°. There was a heavy swell from the south-west, which argued the absence of land in that quarter. On 1 March he stood to the northward once more, and on 3 March, the weather having moderated and the wind gone to the north, westward with all the sail he could make. Next morning whales, seals, and one small penguin were passed, and at noon Cape Saunders was seen again to the north, with more land stretching west by south; as there was no land in sight directly to the south it was hoped that at last the south-eastern limit of the island had been page 54
But towards evening, in clearer weather, Mr. Banks, who had taken sides, wrote joyfully, 'we Continents had the pleasure to see more land to the Southward'. This land was certainly inhabited, as was proved by a large fire at night. On the 5th, after a thick and hazy morning, the mainland was seen to bear north, while to the west was some land lying low, with higher land behind it stretching round to the south; 'We could not see this land join to that to the northward of us, there either being a total seperation, a deep bay or low land between them'. The low land already referred to was evidently an island.2
Cook tacked to the eastward at night, and next day the wind was south-west, so that though he worked south, he made some miles easting as well. At daylight on the 8th, from the masthead, it looked as if the land to the west was joined to Tovy Poenammu, while at the same time there was the appearance of land in the south-west. This proved a mistake, and Cook stood west and south-west all through a moonlit night, past one dangerous ledge of rocks, and near another at daybreak next morning; on them the sea broke high in the air, so that they well earned their name of the Traps. The ship could now sail west, with the southernmost point of land—South Cape—to the north; 'Blew fresh all day', wrote Banks on 10 March, 'but carried us round the Point to the total demolition of our aerial fabrick called continent'; and then the course was turned north. A small rocky island—Solander's Isle—then the mainland again, were sighted early in the morning on the 11th. What then was the land to the south, round which Cook had just sailed? At first he, like his officers, had no doubt that there was a strait, at the eastern end of which the small island had been seen— they thought they could see it again—while the western end now lay open and visible, so that it must be an island; 'but', he
1 Cook's chart of this part of the coast is clearly marked, and includes one large bay, Molineux's Harbour, named after the master of the Endeavour, which receives no mention in his journal. The name was obviously conferred later. Curiously enough, it changed its position. On what appears to be Cook's first chart, it applies to Waikawa harbour; on later ones, by a clearly discernible process, it moves up to the bay at the mouth of the Clutha river. See Journals, I, p. 264, n. 4. The Clutha was for many years called the Molyneux (the name is spelt both ways in the records of the voyage).
2 Here the problem of the real nature of Foveaux Strait presented itself to Cook. The island was Ruapuke; it is called on Cook's chart Bench Island, but that name has since been transferred to another island.
says in words that still puzzle us, 'when I came to lay this land down upon paper from the several bearings I had taken it appear'd that there was but little reason to suppose it an Island; on the Contrary I hardly have a doubt but what it joins to and makes a part of the main land.'1
The two entrances to the strait were therefore named on the chart South East Bay and South West Bay. The mainland seemed to afford no harbour and was very rugged, with patches of snow on the hills, but was partly wooded; there was no sign of habitation.
For the next two days there were gales; the ship was forced south to 47° 40' again. It was back in sight of very high land on 13 March, in the morning, and in the afternoon Cook hauled in for a bay, which seemed to offer good anchorage. But the distance was too great to get in before dark, the wind was so strong as to make unsafe an attempt either to enter the bay at night or to keep to windward of it, and he bore away along the shore. Several islands inside this bay promised shelter from all winds; and off its north-west point there were five remarkable peaked rocks, standing up like the fingers and thumb of a man's hand. Cook called this Point Five Fingers. He was to make good use of the harbour on a future voyage; now, as he sailed north, the oncoming night made him call it Dusky Bay. West Cape was the name he gave the extreme south-west point of the island, as it faded into the sunset. For eight days out of the next ten there was a favouring wind, and the chart delineates the west coast without a break. The morning after Dusky Bay was left behind another possible harbour was passed; the opening was narrow, and on each side the land rose high and perpendicular; inland were mountains covered with new-fallen snow—which occasioned no surprise, as the last two days had been very cold. The land hereabouts, thought young Sydney Parkinson
, the botanical artist, 'appeared very romantic, having mountains piled on mountains to an amazing
1 It is difficult to follow Cook's reasoning here, and his chart hardly gives it clarity. Hicks writes, Sunday, 11 March 1770: 'At Noon the Island [Solander's Island] SW 4 leags. the extremes of the No.ermost Land from 75° W to 69° E which makes the No.ermost side of the Streights this is ye W.tern opening of the Passage mentioned the 6 Inst: the Passage @ N 69 E to S 72 E the extremes of the large Island which is ye So.ern land of the Streights @ S 72° E to S 41° E distance from the nearest Shore 3½ lgs: no ground at 90 F.' There seems to have been a good deal of discussion of the matter on board, though Banks ignores it. See Journals, I, p. 263, n. 2.
height'. There were some who wished Cook to go into the harbour, but this he refused to do, 'because I saw clearly that no winds could blow there but what was either right in or right out. This is Westerly or Easterly, and it certainly would have been highly imprudent in me to have put into a place where we could not have got out but with a wind that we have lately found does not blow but one day in a month.' This inlet therefore he named Doubtful Harbour. Banks, who desperately wanted to land, could never forget his disappointment. On 16 March, at daylight, there was the appearance of still another inlet which proved, however, to be merely a deep valley, bounded by high hills—this Cook called Mistaken Bay; and later passed Cascade Point, where four small streams of water fell down into the sea. Inland the mountains were still white, and some of the valleys even were covered with snow: with ice rather, for these were the west coast glaciers.
Before long the Endeavour was off the coast first sighted by Tasman, and on the 20th the wind veered to the north-west, with hazy weather, rain and squalls. Cook was forced to lose some ground standing to the west, and the prominent point which he sighted on coming back to the land he afterwards named Cape Foulwind. Like Tasman, he remarked on the great, the 'prodigious' swell; on the 22nd, in the morning, while the ship was no more than three or four miles from the shore, the wind fell calm, and 'a large swell from the W.S.W. rowling Obliquely upon the shore . . . put me under a good deal of apprehension that we should be obliged to anchor, but by the help of a light air now and then from the S.W. quarter we were enabled to keep the Ship from driving much nearer the shore'. This was near a bluff head off which lay a number of rocks above water, the headland which Tasman had named Steyle hoeck—Steep point—and Cook now called Rocks Point. By dark next evening the ship had run the length of another point beyond which the land turned to the east—the point he afterwards called Cape Farewell. An easterly wind meant a day's tacking, in which no distance was gained—'The sea is certainly an excellent school for patience', reflected Banks— but on the 25th in a northerly wind an east-south-east course could be set, so that at daylight land was visible to the southeast, and fifteen miles away, Stephens Island. A few hours later page 57 the north-west head of Queen Charlotte's Sound was in sight. New Zealand had been circumnavigated, and it was time to think of leaving it. Cook had empty water-casks, however, and knowing that there was a bay between Stephens Island and Point Jackson, where there must be anchorage and convenient watering-places, he ran into the bay and anchored, 'under the west shore in the second Cove within the fore mentioned Islands'. At daylight on the 27th he went in a boat and found both a watering-place and a better position for the ship; and for four days the men were busily employed watering, cutting wood, and fishing with great success, in overcast and rainy weather.
Cook recorded his impressions of the western coast, as of the rest of the country that he saw. There must, he thought, be a continuous chain of mountains from one end of Tovy Poe-nammu to the other—mountains 'which are of a prodigious height and appear to consist of nothing but barren rocks, cover'd in many places with large patches of snow which perhaps have laid their sence the creation. No country upon earth can appear with a more ruged and barren aspect than this doth from the sea for as far inland as the eye can reach nothing is to be seen but the summits of these Rocky mountains which seem to lay so near one enother as not to admit any Vallies between them.' This was in what we know as the Sounds region; further north, beyond latitude 44° 20', the mountains lay more inland, and between them and the sea were heavily wooded hills and valleys, apparently in a fertile land; probably also there were a great many lakes and ponds. From 42° 8' to Cape Farewell the land was not distinguished by anything remarkable; 'it rises into hills directly from the sea and is cover'd with wood'. Nowhere on this coast did Cook find any inhabitants. The bay he was now in he explored in the pinnace so far as time would admit; he could not see the head of it, but between it and Queen Charlotte's Sound there was, he was certain, plenty of good anchorage and shelter for shipping. The land about the bay—called Admiralty Bay—was rough and uneven, covered with bush and fern; as sign of habitation there were only a few long-deserted huts. West of Admiralty Bay, between Cape Stephens—off which Stephens Island lay— and Cape Farewell, was another bay, large and deep, the page 58bottom of which could not be seen as the ship sailed in a straight line past the wide entrance. This great indentation he called Blind Bay; it must, he thought, be Tasman's Murderers' Bay.1 On returning to the ship, in the evening of 30 March, Cook found her ready for sea. But in what direction should he depart? He was anxious to return home by the route most advantageous to geographical exploration, and he consulted with his officers. To sail by way of Cape Horn was what he most wished, 'because by this rout we should have been able to prove the existence or non existence of a Southern Continent which yet remains doubtfull; but in order to ascertain this we must have kept in a high latitude in the very depth of winter, but the condition of the ship in every respect was not thought sufficient for such an undertaking'. The Endeavour, records Parkinson, was out of sugar, salt, oil, tea and tobacco, and had had no bread for nearly six months. For the same reasons the Cape of Good Hope route was declined—nor would that course have given hope of any new discovery. It was resolved to return, as so many other Pacific navigators had returned, by way of the East Indies—but with a difference: the Endeavour would steer west to the unknown coast of New Holland and make discovery of that as it pushed north. The appendix to Cook's programme was to be as great as all that had gone before.
At daylight on 1 April the ship got under sail and put to sea, in clear weather and with a fresh gale from the south-east. When evening fell Cape Farewell was twelve miles to the east; in the morning New Zealand was lost in rain and cloud.
If Cook had done nothing more on this voyage than chart New Zealand, that survey in itself would have given lustre to his name. 'The situation of few parts of the world are better determined than these Islands are,' he writes, 'being settled by some hundreds of Observations of the Sun and Moon and one of the transit of Mercury. . . . The Chart which I have drawn will
1 Cook was wrong, but not far wrong—he had in reality sailed past two bays divided by the irregular triangle of land that ends in Separation Point, so called by d'Urville; Murderers' (Massacre or Golden) Bay lies to the north-west of Blind (Tasman) Bay.
best point out the figure and extent of these Islands, the situation of the Bays and harbours they contain and the lesser Islands [that] lay about them.' True, there were places in which the chart could not be considered dependable, and Cook lists them at length;1
but his general outline, and most of the names he records, have remained. The two great mistakes, 'Banks's Island' and the error concerning Stewart Island, are obvious, and the first of these is adequately explained. The second is more difficult to understand; it appears to have been reasoning from his chart and not from observation that led Cook to conclude that the land was all one. Yet, on the chart that seems to be the earliest complete one we have, and may be of Cook's own workmanship, there are not the dotted lines of a probable conjunction, and the island looks like an island; for evidence of his conclusions we are bound to accept his own written word. We may add that his South Island is too narrow-waisted, because of the difficulty of picking up the line of flat land on its eastern side from out at sea. The major fact is not that such errors are pardonable, even though they be deemed great; it is—and it is an extraordinary fact—that the chart is so free of large error. Never before had there been marine surveying like this, under such conditions. The task of Cook's successors, in completion and clarification of detail, was complex enough, and among them are distinguished names; but, however striking or final their accomplishment, it was on his basis that they built. They came to New Zealand with his chart; it was on that chart that they registered their rectifications.
New Zealand, clearly, was neither a continent nor part of a continent, and those who held to the continental theory must look elsewhere. The chances of finding Terra australis incognita
were diminishing, and if some, like Mr. Joseph Banks, clutched at the vanishing shade, it must be prodigiously smaller in extent than had hitherto been supposed. While Cook had dispelled that illusion, both he and Banks had faithfully recorded what could be found out in so short a time, from so limited a number of landings and encounters, about the interior and the people. Hilly and mountainous the country might be, but Aeheinomouwe at least seemed rich and fertile—Banks and Solander retired from New Zealand with four hundred new
varieties of plants—and it was the opinion of everybody that all sorts of European grain and fruit and plants would flourish there; 'in short was this Country settled by an Industrus people they would very soon be supply'd not only with the necessarys but many of the luxuries of life'. Birds were not so plentiful as fish, but ducks, shags, gannets and gulls were all eaten and found exceedingly good; 'indeed hardly any thing came amiss to us that could be eat by man'. While dogs and rats were the only animals, rats themselves were so scarce that Cook and many others in the ship never saw one. The trees, as he had already remarked, provided first-rate timber except for masts—and closer examination might reveal some proper for that; the 'broad-bladed grass like flags of the nature of hemp' (our well-known flax or Phormium tenax),
would, it was thought, make the best of cordage and canvas. Minerals were a doubtful quantity. If the settlement of a colony should ever be projected, the best place would be the Bay of Islands or the River Thames; for at each place there was a good harbour, and the Thames would give easy communication with the interior. Nor were the natives so united as to make such settlement difficult; they were strong, well made and active, but very much divided into parties—a brave, open, warlike people, thought Cook, and void of treachery. However bellicose their behaviour, 'After they found that our Arms were so much Superior to theirs and that we took no advantage of that superiority and a little time given them to reflect upon it they ever after were our very good friends and we never had an Instance of their attempting to surprize or cut off any of our people when they were ashore, oppertunities for so doing they must have had at one time or a nother.' Their diet, their cannibalism, their fishing, their canoes and carving and feeling for design, their houses and tools, their musical instruments, their dancing and remarkable sense of rhythm, their manner of mourning, even their religion —on all these things there was some revealing comment to make. Those articles that could be acquired in trade were acquired, but of the 'green talk', or talc, axes or adzes, Cook could gain none, whatever he offered; so greatly was greenstone valued. Not for nothing was Te Wai Pounamu
so named. And the Maori himself—whence came he? Both at the Bay of Islands and at Queen Charlotte's Sound there had been mention page 61
of some northern land, knowledge of which was, it seemed clear, only 'traditionary'. Banks thought immigration must be from the west; the universality of the South Sea islanders' language, thought Cook himself, was 'a sufficient proff that both they and the New Zelanders have had one Origin or Source, but where this is, even time perhaps may never discover'. Time has shown greater ability than Cook foresaw, though it has given us also controversy; it has restored to us Kupe
, whom Cook would eagerly have talked with, as men converse among their peers.