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


Cook in Disgruntled Mood—Threat by Large Native War Party— Timely Retreat to the Boats—“Endeavour Bay” First Name Given—Vessel in Peril off Portland Island.

On Wednesday, 11 October, 1769 (civil date), the second day after his arrival in Poverty Bay, Cook (vide his rough notes) sent an officer ashore with the marines to guard a party of woodcutters, as his ship was in need of wood as well as water. This party left the ship at 8 a.m. and landed at Boat Harbour. Probably, the wood was obtained on the lower slopes of Kaiti Hill, facing the ship. Shortly afterwards, Cook, Banks and Solander went ashore. They took with them the three native lads captured the previous day.

According to Banks, each of the lads had eaten an enormous breakfast and they had been ornamented with bracelets, anklets and necklaces after their own fashion. Cook was under the impression that they would be quite willing to go away on the Endeavour, but, as Tupaea could make himself understood by the inhabitants, he decided that they might prove of more service if they were put back on shore, where they would be able to show their friends that they had not been harmed. It was on that account that he extended his stay by that day.

The boys expressed much joy when they learned that they were to be landed, but, when they saw the boats heading for Boat Harbour, they begged very hard not to be set ashore there. The people at that place, they said, were enemies of theirs, and would kill and eat them. Cook (rough notes) mentions that they wished to be carried over to the other side of the bay [the south-west side]. He was reluctant to acquiesce, as it would have been necessary first to take the woodcutters back to the ship. Personally, he did not believe the boys' story. A discussion took place as to whether it would be better to carry the boys over in a boat or to march round with them. Cook resolved that, if the boys did not elect to leave them, he would, in the evening, send them away by boat. Without being pressed to do so, the lads, “with tears in their eyes,” left the party after it had crossed over to the western side of the river.

As there were no natives in sight, Cook and his companions sauntered along a ridge lying between Waikanae Beach and Waikanae Creek, intending to shoot some ducks, of which Banks says, “there was a great plenty.” The sergeant and four marines page 38 walked abreast of them, and the other marines marched along the ridge, “which overlooked the country.” Banks reckoned that they had proceeded about a mile when the guard called out “that a large body of Indians was on the march towards them.” [Native tradition states that they had come from Orakaiapu pa.] Cook (rough notes) gives the distance traversed as “not above half a mile.” He also mentions that the natives were in several groups. His party (he adds) drew together, retired to the river, and crossed over to the eastern side. En route, their three young native friends rejoined them.