in New Zealand

The James Ford Bell Library has the original materials used in this unit as part of its collection.

Suggested Activity: Select an excerpt from Captain Cook's journal. Read it carefully. Imagine you are on the ship with Captain Cook. Draw a cartoon or write a story or a play. Students may create their projects individually or as a team.

Captain James Cook sailed around the world three times before he was killed in Hawaii. He visited New Zealand twice, charting the coastline and meeting both friendly and hostile natives. He was the first European navigator to sail around the islands and through the strait that separates them. Captain Cook was one of the finest navigators in history.

On the first voyage, 1768-1771, he guided two scientists, Banks and Solander, on a trip to view the transit of Venus from Tahiti. Enroute, he explored many islands in the Pacific, as well as New Zealand and parts of Australia. He did not have a camera for his voyages, so an artist went with him and drew pictures of the people, the animals and plants and the landscape. Capt. Cook made maps of coastlines and took soundings [depth measurements] regularly.

As you read Captain Cook's journal, you will notice that some of the words are spelled differently from the way we spell them now and some sentences have an old-fashioned structure. The excerpts are taken from an original journal published in 1771, so these elements are left as they were written in the 18th Century.

To read the words of Cook describing each event on the list, click on the number and you will go to that section of the journal. Click on the "Back" button to return to this index.

The First Voyage to New Zealand, 1768-1771

1. The Title Page of the Journal and the assignment Cook received from his employer:

At first he tried to go to California, but the Spanish, who owned California at the time, would not give him a passport, so he headed for Hudson's Bay. At the last minute his orders were changed: he was to take Joseph Banks and Dr. Solander to Tahiti to view the Transit of Venus.

2. The Endeavour sets sail on August 25th, 1768, at 4:00 P.M. The paragraphs describe the ship, the crew and the equipment onboard.
3. Cook describes his treatment for scurvy and, later in the expedition, Cape Horn.
4. The Expedition takes onboard two natives of Tahiti - Tabia and Tiato.


5. Capt. Cook first sights New Zealand on Oct. 8, 1769, and the adventure begins.
6. The Endeavour and crew anchor in Poverty Bay on the east side of New Zealand. They sail on southward and meet their first natives, who come aboard to trade. 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 crew sights the first hostile natives, when four canoes come alongside on Friday, the 13th. The ship's guns come in handy.
7. On Saturday, Oct. 14, more hostile natives attack while a small boat searches for water and on Sunday, Oct. 15, the expedition arrives in Hawke's Bay. They have quite a time trying to buy fish from the natives. 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.
8. Tiato, the boy from Tahiti, is captured by the New Zealand natives and barely escapes with his life. Cook names the place "Cape Kidnappers" and it has that name today. [In reading the journal here, George's Island is another name for Tahiti.] Cook describes the area in some detail.
9. Cook follows his instructions from the Lords of the Admiralty to sail to 40 degrees south latitude, and, if the land appears to continue further south, to turn back and sail northward. He calls the place where he turns Cape Turnagain, which you can find on the map of New Zealand. No one knew at the time of the voyage whether New Zealand was a continent or islands. Cook aimed to find out.
10. On Thursday, Oct. 19, five Indians spend the night aboard the Endeavour. They turn out to be bold and confident.
11. The expedition continues to Tegadoo Bay, where they try to get water and wood. Cook describes the village of the natives. The high seas prevent them from bringing the water onboard. Several days later - on 10/24 - the natives help them to find both water and wood. Cook describes the local plantations and the sweet potato.
12. One of Cook's officers spends time in a native village. Here is the first description of the Maori greeting, a bit about their food and their society. The generosity of the Indians is best seen as they lead the officer to the watering place. The bay was called Tolaga.


13. The crew and the Indians have another trading encounter, but this time Cook's crew figures out how to trade the Indians' way. One bold Indian tries to take advantage of the trades and shows his courage when he is wounded. The natives are fearless in the face of threats or gunfire. Only the biggest guns fired over their heads will move them away
14. Nov. 2-5, Indians make hostile approaches to the Endeavour. Cook uses various methods to discourage them, and continues with the soundings and mapping. On Nov. 6, they meet with some peaceable Indians, who wish to trade and who give water and wood.
15. Nov. 9, the astronomers - Banks and Solander - observe the Transit of Mercury. During another episode of misunderstood actions in trading, one Indian is shot dead. Cook regrets the action, writing that if they punished all the mischievous Indians in that way, there wouldn't be any left. The Indians leave the expedition alone for a number of days.
16. Nov. 10-25, the Endeavour continues along the coast without incident. They explore a river and sound and map.
17. Nov. 26-30, the natives again pursue the expedition. The strategies used by the Indians begin to look like a hunt, with trading interspersed. They even attempt to pull up the anchor so the Endeavour will drift into shore and founder on the rocks. In the midst of this, Cook lands with a small group of men. When he is surrounded by natives, the crew on the ship become nervous and begin shooting.


18. The expedition makes another stop for water, a favorite vegetable - cellery - and fish. They have something to learn from the Indians at this stop. They are in the Bay of Islands.
19. The Endeavour nearly founders on the shore due to a bad breeze. The Indians show their pleasure at the prospect. Happily, a breeze comes from the right direction just in time.
20. They sail further north to the Island of Three Kings, amidst gales that do much damage to sails and rigging. By Dec. 31, they reach Tasman's North Cape and change their course to southward.


21. The ship nearly founders again; this time it is rescued by one of the small boats, which tows the Endeavour to safety. Again they meet hostile natives. But, a short distance further on, they are hailed by a village and spend quite a bit of time repairing the ship among these Indians.
22. On Tuesday, Jan. 16, Cook loses his temper and wounds one of the Indians over a trading deal. They continue to trade. Later, Captain Cook goes ashore and discovers the bones of humans in a basket. The natives explain that they do indeed, eat their enemies. It is an accepted cultural practice. Cook describes their philosophy.
23. On Wednesday, Jan. 17, the men find a body in the water. They try to find out who it is. In the process, Cook describes another bit of Indian culture - the large number of deserted towns - which he attributes to the practice of cannibalism with enemies. It is a "take no prisoners" philosophy.
24. Cook finds a local castle and fort, which he describes in detail. He also makes a suggestion to the Indians, which they do not accept.


25. On Feb. 6, the ship leaves Charlotte Sound and continue eastward. On Feb. 7, a weak moment in Cook's leadership nearly loses the Endeavour a third time.
26. Cook and crew discover and traverse the strait between the two islands now called "Cook's Strait". Cook first heard about it from Abel Tasman's voyage, which preceded Cook.
27. The expedition expects to take 4 days to sail around the South Island, which is what the Indians told them it took by canoe. However, poor weather causes them to take nearly a month.
28. On March 31, the party leaves New Zealand from Cape Farewell. After opening and reading his orders, Capt. Cook sails toward New Holland, or Australia on his way to the East Indies.


29. Cook describes the people of New Zealand in some detail at the end of the excerpt.

Visit the Resource Sites here for more information about the voyage.

Papers of Sir Joseph Banks You may download the papers in PDF.
The Maritime History Virtual Archives A collection of written records from the same time as Cook's voyages.
Personnel Descriptions of the various jobs on a ship.
Provisions What might you take on a voyage in 1770?
Captain Cook Study Unit Extensive links of all kinds about Cook.
The Mariners' Museum - Newport News, Virginia A general resource.

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