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Historic Poverty Bay and the East Coast, N.I., N.Z.

Cook Takes a Risk

Cook Takes a Risk

In the rough notes which Cook made at the close of the day, he included some important details which he did not afterwards incorporate in his journal. Outstanding among them are those which indicate the risk to which he exposed himself. It seems that the marines and sailors were in boats lying off Boat Harbour when he and his companions retired to that spot to have them landed. He adds:

“When we returned to the riverside … Tobia (Tupaea) called to the Indians and told them that we wanted to be friends with them; him they perfectly understood and he them. We shew them several things, such as beeds and nails, and throw'd a nail over to them, but it fell short.
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“One of them then swam over to a rock [Te Toka-a-Taeao] that lay nearly in the middle of the river, but would come no farther. I then laid down my arms and went to him and gave him some presents and, very soon, 2 more came. These brought their arms with them. I gave these three men most of what I had about me; but the people on the other side of the river began again a war dance, upon which, having no arms with me, I thought fit to retire, which they did not offer to prevent.
“Soon after this, about 20 more came over, all armed. They would willingly have exchanged their arms for ours, but would not part with theirs on any other condition, and soon attempted to snatch ours out of our hands. I got Tobia to tell them that we was their friends and only come to get water and to trade with them and that, if they offered to insult us, we could with ease kill them all. But Tobia told us plainly that they were not our friends, and told us several times to take care of ourselves, and it appear'd very plane that all they came for was to seize some of our arms. They several times seized hold of my musket and one of them at last tore Mr. Green's hanger from his side and was making off with it when I ordered him to be fired upon.”

Hawkesworth would have his readers believe that Te Rakau died soon after he received the second shot. This, however, was not the case. In his rough notes, Cook says that this native did not seem to mind when Banks hit him with only small shot; he turned and flourished the hanger about. He adds: “I then order Dr. Monkhouse, whose piece was load with a ball, to fire at him…. The man, who I thought at first was dead, recovered so far as to talk to Tobia. Yet their was great possibility of the wound being mortal.” [Te Rakau was found dead next morning.]