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Captain Cook's Voyages of Discovery

Young Navigators

October, 1769

The Endeavour has left Tahiti and heads for New Zealand

Sunday the 1st of October we took up a piece of timber covered with barnacles, and saw a seal sleeping on the water, several porpoises, a grampus, numerous flocks of land-birds, and many parcels of rock-weed; we sounded with one hundred and ninety fathom of line, but found no bottom. But continuing our course, Saturday, October 7th we discovered land at West by North, which appeared in low hummocks;

Cook anchors for the first time in New Zealand, begins mapping and meets the first natives

. . . and at four o'clock P.M. the following day we anchored in a deep bay, with our best bower, having ten fathom water, and a fine brown sandy bottom. This we called Poverty-Bay, it being on the East side of New Zealand, and in latitude 39° 00' S. and longitude 179° 47' West from Greenwich, and the variation 14° 30' East.

Wednesday the 11th, at seven P.M. the wind being westerly, we left the bay, and sailed to the southward, along the coast, keeping at four or five miles distance from the shore. On Thursday [10/12] several of the natives came on board, and sold us some of their paddles, cloth, &c. we made them several presents, and they left us apparently well satisfied with their reception. About twenty-two miles S.S.E. half E. from the North point or head of the bay is a cape, which, from its figure, we called Cape Table; between them we had regular soundings from thirteen to eighteen fathoms; but on standing four miles farther off from the cape we had seventy fathoms of water, with soft ground, being then on the outer edge of a bank that extends from the North head to Cape Table. About nine miles farther to the southward is a small island, which we named Portland Isle: it is connected to the main by a chain of rocks, about a mile in length, which are partly under water. About three miles N.E. from Portland are several shoals, which we called the Shambles; one of these we narrowly escaped: there is however a passage with twenty fathom of water between them. On Friday [10/13] four large canoes came towards us filled with men, who appeared to be all armed: they made several long speeches, inviting or challenging us to battle; but seeing themselves disregarded, they boldly came alongside, and threw their spears into the ship; we then fired a musquet over them, which producing no effect, we discharged a four-pounder loaded with grape-shot above their heads, on which they precipitately retired. But as we found the current setting us fast towards the shore, we soon anchored in twenty-one fathom, about a league distant from the land.

[Editor's Note: Many of the names Cook gave to geological features in New Zealand have been changed, but Portland Island can still be found at the top of Hawke Bay. Cook took every opportunity to map a new land when he found it, so he spent time moving slowing along the coast.]

The first culture clash - the Europeans want fish and the Indians make jokes

On Saturday [10/14], the wind continuing at N. we sailed along the coast, at about four miles distance, having from twelve to fifteen fathom of water. In the afternoon we sent our long-boat and pinnace ashore to sound and discover a watering-place, of which we had great need; but they were soon recalled, as we saw several canoes making towards them. Soon after about one hundred and fifty of the armed natives in canoes approached us and, to convince them of our pacific intentions, we threw several presents into the water towards them, and employed every expedient in our power to allure them on board to trade; but all our endeavours were fruitless; and their designs appeared more hostile even than our former visitors, as they actually proceeded to an attack upon us, and continued it, until, like the former, they were dispersed by the discharge of a cannon, after which they fled to the shore.

The next morning, being Sunday [10/15], we were near a very large bay, which we named Hawke's Bay, in latitude 39° 40' S. and longitude 180° 30' W. Here several fishing-canoes came off with cray and other kinds of fish, which we purchased of them for paper and Otahitee cloth; but from their behaviour we concluded that they had never received any sentiment of probity, either from the suggestions of a moral sense, or the precepts of education; for after bargaining with us for a parcel of fish, as often as they could get possession of those commodities which they were to receive in payment, before they had tied their fish to the rope by which we were to draw them on board, they would laugh at our want of precaution, and resolutely refuse us any return for what they had received, obliging us to repurchase the same parcel of fish with other paper and cloth; and this without appearing to be sensible that there was any thing shameful or unjust in their knavery; nor would any menace prevail with them to alter their behaviour.

[Editor's Note: This is the first clash between the cultures. The Maoris had a strong culture before Cook arrived and the two - European and Maori - do not understand one another very well.]

The Indians capture Tiato who barely escapes with his life

While these fishermen continued with us they were joined by several other canoes, filled with armed natives; and as some of our people were trading for fish over the ship's side, they made several attempts to force them into their canoes; and at length they actually seized Tiato, the boy we had brought from George's Island, and immediately fled towards the shore; we then fired several musquets among them, which obliged them to put on their thick cloathing; and one of them seeing a gun pointed at him, doubled up his nets, and held them before him to intercept the ball.

Several Indians however being wounded in the canoe that had seized Tiato, he found means to disengage himself and jump into the water, but in swimming towards the ship he was pursued by a second canoe, that returned to retake him; but to prevent this we discharged a four-pounder a little above their heads, on which they all retired; and soon after the boy was taken up in a boat, which we sent for that purpose, but not before his strength was almost exhausted, as his clothes, being thick and heavy, had greatly impeded him in swimming. He had doubtless but narrowly escaped being eaten; though at that time we did not know that inhabitants of New Zealand were cannibals.

When this accident happened we were opposite the South point of Hawke's Bay, which we from thence named Cape Kidnapper. There are two rocks lying without this cape, which are both of a conical form: Hawke's Bay enters within the land about thirteen leagues; near the middle, but towards the north side, we observed several small rivulets and at the bottom a lagoon about three miles in breadth; its communication with the sea is by a small inlet at the north end, where the sea washes over, but apparently, there is not sufficient water for the entrance of any thing larger than canoes. The north side is formed by a bank of sand extending to the southward; about the middle of this, is an elevation which has been converted to an island by the sands separating or wearing away from it. It is about four miles in length, and one and an half in breadth, running from East to West. The land near the bottom of the bay presents a very beautiful prospect; being happily diversified with large groves of tall strait trees, branching only towards the top, and resembling cedars: the more interior country rises into mountains, many of which are near as high as the Peak of Teneriffe, and covered on their tops with snow. Southwestward from these, the land appeared to be less elevated and uneven; as we discovered several large level plains, apparently covered with grass.

[Editor's Note: Cook names the place "Cape Kidnappers" and it has that name today. George's Island is another name for Tahiti.]

On orders from the Admiralty, Cook turns around at Cape Turnagain

From this bay we continued our course to the southward, until Tuesday [10/17] noon, when we found ourselves in 40° 35' South. It is to be remembered, that New Zealand, before our arrival here, having been only seen in two or three places, was but very imperfectly known; and the Lords of the Admiralty being uncertain whether it was an island or continent, had directed us to sail along the coast as far as 40° south latitude, and from thence, if the land appeared to extend farther, to return again to the northward. And agreeable to these instructions, at noon, being opposite a bluff or prominence of land, which we name Cape Turnagain, we changed our course from South to North; and the wind having likewise changed to the southward, we returned nearly in our former track, sailing along the coast about the same distance as usual from the shore. Cape Turnagain is remarkable for a stratum of clay of a bright brown colour; its prominence gradually diminishes towards the north-side, but o the southward its descent is more sudden. The soundings opposite to it, at the distance of a mile and an half, are about thirty-two fathom, with coarse yellow gravel at the bottom.

[Editor's Note: You can find Cape Turnagain on the map of New Zealand.]

Friendly Indians spend the night on the Endeavour

On Thursday evening [10/19] a canoe came along side with five Indians who told us they intended to stay all night; we therefore hoisted our guests on board, and entertained them in the manner which we expected would be most agreeable. There was nothing like rustic, bashfulness or timidity in their behaviour; as they familiarly tasted of every thing which they saw us eat, even when uninvited; and appeared to have as much confidence in our hospitality and friendship, as if they had long experienced both. Two of them were finely proportioned in their shapes and limbs; and their features appeared to have an unusual feminine delicacy. We dismissed them the next morning with several presents, and they left us with reluctance, being desirous to continue with us the whole day, to which we objected, thinking it should carry them too far from their habitations.

The crew needs water and wood and finds a friendly village

The next morning [10/20] (having passed the land which we first discovered on this coast) we saw to the northward a bay with an island in the middle. In sailing into this bay between the island and the main, we had very foul uneven ground, but afterwards the sounding became regular, and we anchored about half a mile from the shore in eight fathom, with a fine sandy bottom. Our boats were then sent in search of a watering place, but it being very squally, with a great surf, they could not land. In the afternoon we made a second attempt with more success; and the next morning [10/21] sent our boats for wood and water, with a party of men to protect them. But the surf running high and finding great difficulty in bringing our water on board, we gave over the attempt and sailed the next morning [10/22]. This bay is called Tegadoo Bay by the natives, who did not appear to be numerous. It is in latitude 38°11'S. and longitude 180°35'W. The variation 13°15'E.

The inhabitants had a few houses, surrounded by a fence to intercept the winds, and several stages for drying fish near the place at which we landed. They appeared to have plenty of crab, and cray-fish, and a great many dogs with small pointed ears. Some of them were covered with cloth of their own manufacture, which will be more particularly described hereafter and several females had bunches of sea-weeds tied about their middles. Continuing our course to the northward, several canoes came along-side, and some of them venturing on board, we enquired for a watering place, and they pointed to a bay, bearing S.W. by W. to which we dispatched our boats, and at one o'clock the same afternoon they returned, having found a convenient place for procuring a supply both of wood and water: and on Tuesday the 24th we anchored in the bay, having ten fathom of water, and a sandy bottom. The inhabitants here behaved with great hospitality. At the watering place we drew a line, and enjoined them not to pass it; an injunction which they obeyed with great exactness. There were several houses continguous, and the lands in the adjacent vallies being regular flats, were neatly disposed in small plantations; the ground appearing to be well broken as if designed for gardens. Sweet potatoes, like those of Carolina, of which they have large quantities, commonly occupy a considerable part of these plantations. In many places we observed the cloth-plant growing without cultivation.

The bay itself affords plenty of fish, particularly cray fish, and ship-jacks or horse mackarel, which are larger than the mackarel on the British coast. The adjacent woods are very compact, and rendered almost impassable by the numerous supple jacks growing in them. But they afford shelter to a multitude of birds of different kinds, among which are the quail and a very large pigeon. We purchased many things from these people, especially cloth of their own manufacture, giving them in exchange the cloth of Otahitee, of which they were extravagantly fond.

The Indians show their generosity towards the European visitors

In rambling about the country we frequently met with their habitations, and were always treated with great kindness, as they never denied us any thing in their possession. In one of these excursions an officer fell in with a group of houses, and an elderly woman came out and invited him to enter the enclosure, where he found about two dozen of the natives, of both sexes, seated at a repast of cray-fish and potatoes, of which he was invited to partake; and having made them a small present of cloth ... Some time after, an elderly man, with two women, entered, as visitors, with much gravity, And very formally saluted all the company according to the custom of the country; that is, by gently joining the tips of their noses, which a spectator might mistake for a kiss: At parting, however, he repeated this ceremony, which gave them a great pleasure: and in returning the way by which he had come, they sent a man who lead him a much better road; the other being in many places overflowed with water; and in conducting him to the watering place, as often as they came to a ditch or a rivulet, of which there are many for draining their fields, the Indian always carried him over dry, And appeared desirous of transporting him the whole way on his back. This bay is called Tolaga by the natives, and is in latitude 38°290', and longitude 181°38'W. the variation being 13°20'E.

After completing our provision of wood and water, and making an inscription on a tree a little to the right of our watering place, it being Sunday the 29th of October, at six in the morning, we sailed form Tolaga Bay, coasting to the Northward; On the 31st several canoes came towards us, one of them carrying sixty of the natives; but finding them determined on committing hostilities, we dispersed them by firing two of our cannon a little over their heads; after which we continued our course. . .

[Editor's Note: Here is the first description of the Maori greeting.]