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From Tasman To Marsden.

Chapter IV. — Cook Completes his Survey, 1769 and 1770

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Chapter IV.
Cook Completes his Survey, 1769 and 1770.

The westerly and northerly weather which proved so troublesome to De Surville on the west coast, proved equally troublesome to Cook in his attempt to round the North Cape. On the afternoon of 15th December fresh gales from the S.W. compelled him to stand to the S.E. until 8 a.m. on the morning of the sixteenth, when he tacked and stood again to the westward. At noon the Endeavour was in latitude 34° 10′ S. and longitude 183° 45′ W., some 45 miles from land and about equally distant from the North Cape and Knuckle Point. Land was not in sight, although the weather after midday was described as “clear… with a swell from the westward."

It was not through any willingness on Cook's part that he was thus, for the whole of one day, out of sight of land; it was one of those unfortunate accidents that are said to happen in the best regulated families. As a matter of fact Cook records in his Journal “we used our utmost endeavours to keep in with it [the land]." What happened now was that De Surville passed Cape Maria van Diemen in the forenoon, rounded the North Cape in the afternoon, and sailed down the coast to Doubtless Bay. At midday De Surville was in lat. 34° 22′, while Cook was in 34° 10′, and the general course of the latter's afternoon steering was N.W. Thus the two commanders passed one another, sailing almost parallel courses, but evidently just outside the range of observation from the deck or masts of their vessels. Had the weather permitted Cook to follow the coastline, and not driven him to the eastward the moment he encountered open sea to the west, the two commanders must have met about Cape Maria van Diemen. Such a meeting would have meant much to the exhausted Frenchmen.

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Should any reader desire to work out the positions of the two ships when passing one another—a thing attempted here for the first time—the author would ask him to note that Cook's Journal is entered up according to the nautical day (midday to midday), and that Cook had not allowed a day when crossing the 180th meridian. De Surville's Journals treat the day as from midnight to midnight, and, having come from India, the ship had not yet reached the 180th meridian. The Journals of the two ships will be found reproduced for the student of history in Volume II. of the “Historical Records of New Zealand."

Cook, whose object always was to keep in touch with the land, took advantage of some fine weather to get back to the vicinity of the North Cape, but, before he was able to get between the Three Kings and the mainland, heavy weather again came up, and the Endeavour was driven far to northward. It was not until the evening of 24th December that land, in the form of the Three Kings Islands, was seen from the masthead.

On the twenty-fifth the Three Kings were more clearly visible, and were generally identified as the islands seen by Tasman, although they did not correspond with the sketch of them given in Dalrymple's publication of Voyages in the South Seas. Banks, taking advantage of a lull in the weather, went out in a boat and shot some gannets which were about in plenty, and had them made into a goose pie for the Christmas celebrations of the following day. The pie was a great success, and Banks says “in the evening all hands were as drunk as our forefathers used to be upon like occasions." The interesting thing about these celebrations is that they were not on Xmas Day at all, owing to no allowance having been made for “westing" during the voyage, but no doubt the liquor was as potent, and the pie as good, as if the astronomical requirements had all been complied with. The Endeavour's Christmas celebrations remind us of those of the Heemskerck, on the New Zealand coast in 1642: “There were also two hogs killed for the crew, and the Commander ordered, besides the ration, a tankard of wine to be given to every page 48 mess, as it was the time of the fair." As a further connection between these two distant events it might be mentioned that the weather was, on both occasions, execrable.

For four days heavy weather again drove the Endeavour out of sight of land, and it was not until early morning of the thirty-first that Cape Maria van Diemen was again seen. Cook, it will be noticed, did not sail between the Three Kings and the mainland. On 15th December the Endeavour was at the eastern entrance of the strait, and sixteen days later at the western, having, in the interim, sailed round the Three Kings. The ground covered in those sixteen days was covered by De Surville in less than one. Cook notes in his Journal, under date 1st January 1770, that he had been three weeks in getting 30 miles to the westward, and five weeks in getting 150 miles, in the middle of summer, and in 35° latitude.

Creeping down the West Coast Kaipara Harbour was seen early on the fifth, but once more Cook was driven back, and again came in sight of Cape Maria van Diemen on the eighth. Then the weather lulled and enabled the coast to be surveyed without any difficulty. On the ninth, at noon, Hokianga was sighted, Kaipara on the tenth, and Kawhia on the eleventh. So closely did Cook stick to the coastline that he took the Endeavour inside Gannet Island, a name which he gave on account of the immense number of gannets, or solan geese as they are sometimes called, seen upon that rocky spot.

At 4 o'clock on the afternoon of 11th January, the first sight was obtained of Mt. Egmont, described by Cook as “a very high Mountain, and made very much like the Peak of Teneriffe." As Tasman had not seen it when he passed, this is the first recorded sight of it by Europeans. The mountain was again visible the following day, but, when the Endeavour was abreast of it, the peak was lost in the clouds. On the fourteenth, at daybreak, it appeared “of a prodidgious height, and its Top cover'd with Everlasting snow." Cook named it after the Earl of Egmont who had held the position of First Lord of the Admiralty from 1763 to 1769. Banks page 49 was equally charmed when he gazed upon that wonderful mountain, “certainly the noblest hill I have ever seen, and it appears to the utmost advantage, rising from the sea without another hill in its neighbourhood one-fourth of its height."

Cook called the cape, Cape Egmont; Tasman had already named it Cape Pieter Booreel, but had never seen it, merely concluding the existence of a cape from the lay of the land; Cook enjoyed the discoverer's privilege of giving the cape what name he pleased.

The Endeavour continued her course along the coastline of the North Island until the South Island was sighted early in the morning of 15th January. By this time Cook was probably off Wanganui, and he at once made for the new land, reaching it by evening. It seems to have been his intention to have entered Admiralty Bay, but in the morning he found himself carried past where he had settled upon anchoring, and thereupon resolved to enter an inlet which then lay open before him. To prevent being carried on to the N.W. point of the land, the pinnace and yawl had to be got out to tow the Endeavour clear.

Not much difficulty was experienced in sailing up the Sound, and when the wind fell away or chopped about, the boats were got out and manned, and the Endeavour towed up past the Island of Motuara, and anchored in Ship Cove.

While sailing up the Sound, canoes passed backwards and forwards in front of the Endeavour, and on Motuara a village of some 300 inhabitants greeted the ship with loud shouts, as she swung round the outside of the island and made for a sheltered cove which Cook detected on the mainland. No sooner was the anchor down in Ship Cove than several canoes came about, and their Native occupants vented their humour by the customary New Zealand method of throwing stones at the strange apparition. One Native evinced a desire to board the Endeavour, and, though his companions did their best to restrain him, took advantage of a rope's end thrown him, and climbed on deck. Once communication was established Cook took care that the visitor was well treated, and with a substantial supply of presents, and no page 50 jarring note in his reception, the venturesome New Zealander returned to his canoe and its occupants paddled away.

As the Endeavour was badly in need of cleaning, she was careened, and two days were spent in cleaning her sides. This work was suffered to go on without molestation from the Natives, after the first forward one had received a charge of small shot in the knee, as a gentle warning to keep his distance.

One of the first things inquired after was for any tradition concerning ships having been on the coast before, and the reply of the Natives that they had never seen or heard of any vessels but their present visitors, showed that Tasman's vessel was unknown, at any rate to those in this part of the country.

During Cook's stay on the coast the question of the cannibal tendencies of the Natives came under notice on several occasions, but it was not until Queen Charlotte Sound was reached that actual demonstration of the fact that the bodies of human beings were used for food by the inhabitants of New Zealand was obtained. After dinner on 17th January, Cook and Banks rowed round to the first cove to the north, a distance of only two miles from where the vessel was lying, and there found, among the provision baskets, human bones which the Natives did not seek to hide nor to deny the knowledge of. They were cannibals, they admitted it, they gloried in it, and they showed how the flesh was prepared for their cannibal feasts.

When we look at the present deserted appearance of Queen Charlotte Sound in the neighbourhood of Motuara Island, it is difficult to conceive that at the date of Cook's visit the mouth of the Sound had a population of from 300 to 400 souls. The Scenic Reserve at Ship Cove, and the few bays where the original forest covering has been preserved, give us an idea of the lovely scene which greeted Cook's eyes when first he sailed up past the Island. The dense bush-clad hills supplied sustenance to vast numbers of birds, the sea gave similar supplies to quantities of fish, and the page 51 birds and the fish thus provided for were the chief food supplies of the dense population which then inhabited the Sound.

The bird life can be compared with nothing there now, and, probably, with very little else now to be found in the Dominion. Banks describes the morning melody of the feathered songsters of Queen Charlotte Sound:—

“I was awakened by the singing of the birds ashore, from whence we are distant not a quarter of a mile. Their numbers were certainly very great. They seemed to strain their throats with emulation, and made, perhaps, the most melodious wild music I have ever heard, almost imitating small bells, but with the most tunable silver sound imaginable, to which, maybe, the distance was no small addition. On enquiring of our people, I was told that they had observed them ever since we had been here, and that they begin to sing about one or two in the morning, and continue till sunrise, after which they are silent all day, like our nightingales."

The first arrivals of the New Zealand Company in 1839 listened to the same melody. The visitor of to-day listens in vain.

The Natives appeared to Cook to group themselves around fortified spots on different islands, from which they sailed out and occupied the little coves and bays on both sides of the Sound. Cook now visited the Motuara Pa, apparently without any fear of treachery from the Natives. On the first visit he was shown over the stockade “with a good deal of seeming good nature," though signs were everywhere visible of recent cannibal feasts. A week later, he again visited the spot, to obtain the consent of the chief to the erection of a memento of his visit. On the other hand, when his men visited the locality on their own account, terrified at two canoes paddling towards them, firearms were used, fortunately without loss of life; but it served to show what misfortunes might happen when the directing mind of the commander was absent.

Cook's description of the fortified post at Motuara as “a small island or rock separated by a breach so small that page 52 a person could jump across, its steep sides only requiring a slight pallisade and one small fighting stage," still serves for a description as it is now, covered with dense undergrowth, and giving to the visitor a very different reception to that which it accorded the great explorer, when, in 1770, he sailed past its pallisades lined with wild shouting cannibals.

Having overhauled the Endeavour, Cook set himself, first to provide for the refreshment of his crew, and then to undertake the exploration of the coastline in the vicinity. Empty casks were taken out and filled, timber for firewood was cut, fish were caught, and birds were shot. In addition to this the scientists scoured the bush-clad hills. On Tuesday 23rd January, on one of his many surveying expeditions, Cook went some twelve or fifteen miles up the Sound, and, not finding the end of it, landed and climbed the hills on the eastern side. He was disappointed in his hoped-for view of the Sound itself, but was rewarded, on looking over to the east, with a sight of the long suggested strait which Tasman had in vain attempted to locate. Cook had climbed the hill with only one companion, and, as might have been expected, “returned in high spirits." He had seen the strait the land stretching away to the eastward on the other side, and the open sea to the south-east.

On a later date, accompanied by Banks and Solander, Cook again ascended the hill, and carefully examined the western entrance of the strait, which was to be named after him, Cook Strait. On this occasion the party erected a small pyramid of stones, in which they placed musket balls, shot, beads, and any available thing likely to stand the test of time. On Tuesday the thirtieth, three days afterwards, a visit was made to Jackson Head, and, on the top of the hill, from which a view was taken seaward and the different spots located, a cairn was built, mementoes placed therein, and an old pennant left flying from a pole upon it.

In addition to these records of his visit to the Sound, Cook caused two posts to be prepared, giving the day, date, and name of his vessel. One of the posts was erected at the watering place, where to-day Cook's Monument is located; page 53 the other was taken over to Motuara, and, after the consent of the Natives had been procured, was carried to the highest point of the Island, where it was placed in position, the flag hoisted, the Inlet named Queen Charlotte Sound after the King's Consort, and possession of the mainland taken in the name of King George the Third.

On Motuara Island, British Sovereignty was, on 1st February 1770, first declared in the South Island of New Zealand.

In view of our present knowledge of New Zealand, it is worth recording that Cook, on the occasion of hoisting the flag, was told by an old Native who accompanied him that New Zealand consisted of three islands, of which two were called Te Wai Pounamu, and could be circumnavigated in four days. It was not until 39 years afterwards that geographers proved the old man's statement in regard to the number of islands to be correct. The reference to the four days, however, is not easy to understand.

In his explorations of the Sound, Cook sailed a considerable distance towards the head of it, and his published chart gives a very accurate representation of the broken coastline up to and beyond Tory Channel. His plan shows that he must actually have seen the channel though unaware that it communicated with the ocean. As the Sound at the mouth of Tory Channel trends away to the westward, Cook thought that it provided an outlet to the sea in that direction. When making inquiries amongst the Natives regarding a channel, he was told that there was none, but this error might have been caused by Cook's idea of a western channel suggesting the form of question, which would, of course, be answered in the negative.

On Tuesday 6th February, Cook weighed anchor and left the Cove, but did not get further than Motuara Island, where he was forced to remain until 6 o'clock next morning, when a light breeze enabled him to leave the Sound.

Before getting clear of the land, Cook had a very exciting experience off Stephens Island. There the force of the tide is very great, and in a calm he was carried along at a great page 54 speed, and only prevented from being dashed against the rocks by letting go his anchor in seventy-five fathoms, and paying out one hundred and fifty fathoms of cable to bring his ship to a standstill, two cables' length from danger. From this perilous position the Endeavour did not get clear until the turn of the tide at midnight, when a favourable wind enabled Cook to get clear of a very dangerous headland.

After sailing through the strait Cook would have passed to the southward, but some of his officers thought it probable that the land they had sailed round might communicate by an isthmus between where they then were and Cape Turn-again, not 90 miles away, so Cook, to clear up all such doubts, continued along the North Island coastline, although, so he himself records in his Journal, “no such supposition ever entered my thoughts."

On the afternoon of 9th February three canoes, with about 30 or 40 Natives in them, came off to the vessel, and, so far as their behaviour went, shewed that they had already heard of the Endeavour. They manifested no fear, and when on board asked for nails, which they called whow, but when nails were given them, asked Tupaea what they were, so that their knowledge was evidently confined to simply hearing of the wonderful material which the visitors had. Banks thought they seemed richer and cleaner than any met with since calling at the Bay of Islands. At 11 o'clock the following morning Cook called the officers on deck and asked if they were satisfied that the land was an island, and, when they replied in the affirmative, turned the Endeavour's head about and hastened to continue the survey to the south.

The work done in connection with the exploration of the South Island has already been dealt with in “Murihiku."

After leaving Cape Farewell, Cook sailed along the east coast of Australia from the latitude of 30° S. to the northern point of Queensland, and then made for Batavia, which he reached on 10th September 1770. Here fever broke out amongst the ship's company, and seven of them died. From this unwholesome resting place, on 26th December 1770, the Endeavour sailed for the Cape of Good Hope, and reached page 55 there on 15th March 1771. From the Cape the voyage was continued via St. Helena to England, and the Endeavour anchored in the Downs at 3 o'clock on Saturday, 13th July 1771.

* * * * * *

The following are the names given by Cook in the North Island, commencing at Cape Palliser, and proceeding up the east coast, and round to the starting point. Where Cook has given his reasons they are quoted. Where no reasons are given, they are either unknown or obvious.

Cape Palliser.

Flat Point and Castle Point.

Cape Turnagain.—“because here we returned."

Black Head.

Bare Island.—“the island was quite barren."

Cape Kidnappers.—See p. 22.

Hawke's Bay.—“in Honour of Sir Edward, first Lord of the Admiralty."

Cape Table.—“on account of its shape and figure.

Young Nick's Head.—“after the boy (Nicholas Young), who first saw the land."

Poverty Bay.—“because it afforded us no one thing we wanted."

Gable End Foreland.—“on account of the very great resemblance the white cliff at the very point hath to the Gable end of a House."

Sporings Isld.—Herman Sporing was one of Banks' artists.

East Cape and East Island.—“because I have good reason to think that it is the Eastermost land on this whole coast; and for the same reason I have called the Island, which lies off it, East Island."

Hicks Bay.—“because Lieutenant Hicks was the first who discover'd it."

Cape Runaway.—See p. 24.

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White Island.—“because as such it always appear'd to us."

Mount Edgecumbe.—John Edgecumbe was sergeant of marines.

High Land Point and Low Land Bay.—Both lost.

The Mayor (now Mayor Island), and The Court of Aldermen (now The Aldermen).

Bay of Plenty.

Mercury Bay, Mercury Point (now lost), and Mercury Isles (now Red Mercury Island and Great Mercury Island).—See p. 24.

Castle Isle, Tower Rock, Oyster River, Mangrove River, and Port Charles.

River Thames.—“on account of it being some resemblance to that River in England" (now Hauraki Gulf, Firth of Thames, and Waihou River).

Cape Colville.—“in honour of the Right honble. the Lord Colvill," under whom Cook had served in Newfoundland.

Barrier Islands.—“The River is defended from the sea by a chain of islands."

East Isles and West Isles.

Point (now Cape) Rodney.

Bream Tail, Bream Head, and Bream Bay.—“we caught between 90 and 100 Bream."

Hen and Chickens.

Poor Knights.

Piercey Island and Cape Brett. See p. 29.

Point Pocock.—Now Cape Wiwiki.

Bay of Islands.—“on account of the Great Numbers which line its shores."

Whale Rock.

Cavalle Islands.—“2 or 3 of them sold us some fish—Cavallys, as they are called—which occasioned my giving the Islands the same name."

Bay Point, Doubtless Bay, and Knuckle Point.

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Sandy Bay.—“the Soil to all appearance nothing but white sand thrown up in low irregular hills."

Mount Camel.—“a high Mountain or Hill standing upon a desert shore, upon which account we called it Mount Camel."

False Bay (now Kaipara Harbour), and Woody Head.

Gannet Island.—“on account of the Great Numbers of these Birds we saw upon it."

Albatross Point, Sugar Loaf Isles, and Sugar Loaf Point.

Mount, and Cape, Egmont.—“in honour of the Earl of Egmont."

Entry Island (now Kapiti), Cook Strait.

* * * * * *

After Cook's return to England and the publication of his discoveries in New Zealand, Alexander Dalrymple, who had figured so prominently before the Endeavour sailed, and Dr. Franklin the celebrated American, submitted to the public a scheme for conveying the benefits of civilisation to the inhabitants of the new land. In the scheme, which was dated 29th August 1771, Dr. Franklin put the case thus:—“Many voyages have been undertaken with views of profit or of plunder, or to gratify resentment; to procure some advantage to ourselves, or to do some mischief to others; but a voyage is now proposed to visit a distant people on the other side of the globe; not to cheat them, not to rob them, not to seize their lands, or enslave their persons; but merely to do them good, and make them, as far as in our power lies, to live as comfortably as ourselves."

It was intended to convey fowls, hogs, goats, cattle, corn, and iron, to the New Zealanders, and to bring from New Zealand such productions as could be cultivated in England. The ship was to be under the command of Alexander Dalrymple. The financial estimate was put before the public in the following form:—A bark of 350 tons at a cost of £2000; stores, boats, and extras, £3000; 60 men at £4 per month, page 58 for three years, £8640; making a total expenditure of £13,640. The total cost of the Expedition, including the cargo, was put down at £15,000.

The money necessary was to be raised by subscription, subscribers of £100 and upwards to be the Trustees, and all who were willing to assist in carrying on the work were requested to communicate with Mr. Dalrymple, Soho Square.

The results were evidently disappointing, as the whole scheme appears to have dropped completely out of sight. Examining what literature was put into circulation regarding it, it would look as if the beautiful sentiments of the far-famed Benjamin Franklin were being utilised by Dalrymple, disappointed at not having received the command of the Endeavour in 1768, to try and bring about an Expedition to the South Seas which would have him as its head. Whatever was the cause, the Natives of New Zealand were to get the benefits of civilisation brought to them in quite a different way.