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Footprints in the Sand: Banks's Maori collection, Cook's first voyage 1768-71

  • University of Melbourne & Australian National University & Takarangi Research

Abstract and Figures

Traditionally, museums have focused their Maori collections according to values that are more reflective of the colonial practice of acquisition and capture than the originating genealogical matrix of relationships out of which they were prestated. 1 Since the 1980s the 're-presenting' of primitive Maori art objects as taonga (ancestral treasures) has been indicative of the growing willingness of museums to begin engaging with descendants of source communities who are not unaccustomed to the metropolitan experience of being the 'other'. In general, museum-held taonga have become rehumanised and approachable in a way that enables the customary system of kin-belonging to be positively expressed within legal parameters of ownership, thus benefiting all parties. Cook's first voyage taonga, however, seem to have remained stratospherically detached from this trend. These 'artificial curiosities' have carried the unrivalled status of being both first and authentic. They have spurred decades of academic/curatorial discourse generally without reference to wider frames of knowledge that Fig. 1. Tuki's map, the earliest surviving Maori-drawn map of Te Ika a Maui and Wai Pounamu (North and South islands of New Zealand), 1793
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6. Footprints in the sand
Banks’s Maori collection, Cook’s first voyage 1768–71
P T
Traditionally, museums have focused their Maori collections according to values that are more
reflective of the colonial practice of acquisition and capture than the originating genealogical
matrix of relationships out of which they were prestated.1 Since the 1980s the ‘re-presenting’
of primitive Maori art objects as taonga (ancestral treasures) has been indicative of the growing
willingness of museums to begin engaging with descendants of source communities who are
not unaccustomed to the metropolitan experience of being the ‘other’.
In general, museum-held taonga have become rehumanised and approachable in a way
that enables the customary system of kin-belonging to be positively expressed within legal
parameters of ownership, thus benefiting all parties. Cook’s first voyage taonga, however, seem
to have remained stratospherically detached from this trend. ese ‘artificial curiosities’ have
carried the unrivalled status of being both first and authentic. ey have spurred decades of
academic/curatorial discourse generally without reference to wider frames of knowledge that
Fig. 1. Tuki’s map, the earliest surviving Maori-drawn map of Te Ika a Maui and Wai Pounamu (North and South
islands of New Zealand), 1793
Hocken Collections, University of Otago
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have been maintained half a world away. Using Joseph Banks’s collection, this essay explores
the significance of Tupaea’s tangible and intangible contributions to the HMS Endeavour
voyage and the important cultural bridge he provided between Cook and Maori (Tupaea is
how Maori remember and record Tupaia or Tupa‘ia, the latter being the spelling as maintained
in the Ra‘iatean language). Without it, Cook’s first footsteps on New Zealand shores may well
have been his last.
My old people loved maps. ey would spend hours poring over old, faded, yellowed, torn,
sellotaped, battered and stained cloth or paper maps that had been salvaged from original
Land Court sittings, local council tips or survey office clean-outs. To them, a map was a portal
by which they could figuratively traverse the landscapes and waterways of their ancestors as
taught by their old people. Never mind if the map was overlaid with foreign grids, streets,
survey lines, place-names or numerical references. So long as evidence of some of the original
features — mountains, rivers, lakes, forests, caves, fishing grounds, rocks, tracks, village sites
or gardens — were remotely identifiable, they would enter a world of imagining, musing,
debate, confirmation or reconciliation.
Instead of orienting themselves to sit to the south of the map, the old people would often
take their station to the west so that they might face the rising sun, subtly acknowledging
the leeward sea-path of origin by which their Polynesian ancestors travelled some 20 plus
generations ago to arrive in Aotearoa. For every elder I knew there seemed to be an alternative,
contesting narrative to features on maps. An identified place of memory — defined in terms
of genealogical accountability (whakapapa) to particular events of tribal significance (mana o
te whenua) — would elicit emotionally charged expressions of belonging or proclamations of
identity. Such assertions were more akin to public marae encounters than gatherings around
the home dining tables which these old documents would occasionally grace between meals.
e very old Land Court maps were the most treasured — jealously guarded for the primary
information they represented. e cut-and-thrust spittle of nineteenth-century elders has also
added its own layer of authority to these old relics. Hotly contested mapped landscapes and
waterways were fought for tooth and nail, each elder seeking to validate and impress their
tribe’s exclusive kinship rights of access and occupation over all others in front of the Crown-
directed court-sittings of tribal peers, assessors and judges. Often, taonga were exhibited,
brandished or recited to prove kin rights.
But, in the end, it mattered little as a land-hungry colonial power bulldozed, mined or
dredged its way through New Zealand’s once pristine landscape, foreshore and seabed,
eventually leaving all tribes reaching for their maps wondering how the Treaty of Waitangi and
all it once promised had gone so horribly wrong.
Notwithstanding the Maori colonial experience since encountering Cook in 1769,
my peoples’ affinity for maps appears to have its roots in a far deeper ancestral awareness,
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Fig. 2. ‘Chart of New Zealand explored in 1769 and 1770 by Lieut. J Cook Commander of His Majesty’s bark Endeavour
engraved by John Bayly
National Library of Australia
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when the universe and all it contained — was conceived, ordered, (mind)-mapped and
negotiated (navigated) through a spatial understanding of genealogical time (spanning 100
plus generations) across the vast Pacific (from Asia to the Americas, Hawai‘i to Aotearoa).
e key markers on these three-dimensional mind-maps were the ancestors, their islands
and associated stars. As each pointer star or star pairs rose out of the ocean to their zenith
if facing east, or dipped back into the Pacific if facing west, they uniquely represented an
associated island and genealogy as well as providing direction and latitude.2 is ancestrally
ordered navigational knowledge would be recounted, referenced, practiced and recited across
generations in prayer form. Correctness of knowledge and an ability to continually adapt
and integrate new ways to navigate was paramount to survival. Not surprisingly, learned
Polynesian inhabitants appeared to quickly grasp the concept of two-dimensional charts and
even provided their own map drawings using charcoal,3 chalk4 or ink5 to assist new European
arrivals in their South Pacific reorientation (see Figs 1, 3).
However, these two-dimensional charts were unintelligible to the European new-
comers and not given serious regard. Later academic interpretation of this reorientation
compressing time, space, environment, genealogy into two dimensions remained elusive
if not unconvincing.6 Recently, di Piazza and Pearthree deviated from previous scholarly
efforts, re-examining Tupaea’s map in particular.7 Traditional wayfinding frames of reference,
ethnographic research of the Endeavour journals and charts, were reoriented according to early
Polynesian evidence of navigation, then juxtaposed on to Western cartographies of the same
islands. e resulting comparisons convincingly demonstrated that early charts by Polynesian
navigators like Tupaea indeed provided accurate island positioning if read as ‘subject-centred
sailing directions or bearings to distant islands’.8 My visit to Taputapuatea Marae confirmed
as much as I marvelled over the exact position (within one degree) of the coral and basalt wall
along the Earth’s north-south axis.9 It uniquely faces west, providing a spatial reference point
(mapped by the memorised east-west passages of sun, moon and stars) by which all of its
navigators could accurately fix latitude and direction back to Taputapuatea from anywhere in
the Pacific.10
When European newcomers first arrived in the Pacific they had no concept of any Polynesian
frames of reference to comprehend local oceanic navigation, associated watercraft and
apparently superior sailing vessels.11 ey instead relied on time-driven sextant positioning,
any dubious charts or tables gleaned from previous European explorers,12 and a lot of trial
and error. Cook quickly saw the merit in taking advantage of local knowledge,13 heading his
HMB Endeavour in directions that promised further discovery ‘for the use of his Britannick
majesty’.14 us Tupaea, the priestly navigator of Ra‘iatea, came to provide Cook and Banks
with his unique knowledge, contributing to their successful 1769–70 exploration of the South
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Fig. 3. Sketch map of the Leeward Society Islands attributed to Tupaea
engraving by William Faden
published in A Voyage round the World, by Georg Forster
National Library of Australia
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is collaboration of cultures — English and Polynesian catapulted Cook’s diligently
charted New Zealand (Fig. 2) and all it had to offer onto the world map of enlightenment.16
Within 100 years, New Zealand and its Maori inhabitants became subject by the 1840 Treaty
of Waitangi to British sovereignty. In 1852 the first Settler Government was established in
Auckland and the more brutal aspects of colonisation, including civil war, commenced within
a decade (the final encounter was in 1872). at same year, 1852, is also remembered as the
year our fledgling nation’s oldest learned institution, Auckland Museum, first opened to the
public 400 metres up the road. It focused not only on recovering Maori curios of a ‘dying race’,
but also on botany.17 In 1900, when the Maori population was at its lowest — down from
over 200,000 in 1800 to less than 40,00018and had generally lost control over almost all
economically viable land and resources, the Auckland Museum received from Kew Gardens,
London, the botanical holy grail of New Zealand: 510 pressed plant specimens collected by
Banks and Daniel Solander during the Endeavour’s visit to New Zealand in 1769–70.
e Auckland Museum is proud of this collection, displaying one of its images, Earina
mucronata, in its 150-year anniversary publication, 150 Treasures.19 It has provided colonists
and their descendants with a tangible direct connection to the first British people who set
foot in New Zealand, subtly validating the Crown’s superior right to govern. But these 510
specimens nevertheless represent just a fraction of the many thousands of things collected
by Cook and his ‘gentleman amateur of science’
passenger, Banks, 130 years earlier.20 Banks may
have been just 25 years old, but his well-heeled
gentry connections bought him cabin space to
accommodate his very own scientific entourage of
eight men21 (plus two dogs). Advised by Solander,
the protégé of Carl Linnaeus, Banks’s team was
responsible for returning to England many
thousands of botanical and zoological specimens
and a few hundred or so ‘artificial curiosities’.22
With each new landing, the ever-adventurous
Banks engaged local hospitality while his team
carefully collected, documented, pressed, sketched
and painted in his trail.
On returning home in 1771, Banks displayed
in his house the vegetable, animal and mineral
specimens that he had gathered, although,
eventually, they went to the British Museum
(Natural History). At that time, the ‘noble savage’
Fig.4. Earina mucronata
engraving after a sketch by Sydney Parkinson from
Cook’s first Pacific voyage
published in Banks’ Florileg ium, printed 1980s
National Museum of Australia
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curiosities were comparatively less valuable — both scientifically and monetarily — compared
to subsequent voyages when people gathered at the docks to acquire what might have been
collected.23 Wealth in 1771 was demonstrated in a number of ways, not least by means of gentry
gardens, whose owners sought to introduce exotic species from faraway lands to show off to
their peers. Nevertheless, the less popular carved and woven items collected on Cook’s first
voyage eventually found their way into cabinets of curiosities across Europe. For the next 100
years, little or nothing was done to catalogue or differentiate these from later items that were
collected by Cook and other European explorers. Today we are left with mostly circumstantial
evidence by which the original Endeavour voyage’s ‘artificial curiosities’ can be identified.
Surviving written evidence suggests that Cook and Banks utilised Maori curios to their
own ends, willingly gifting them to King, Admiralty, gentrified friends and learned colleagues.
anks to the work of Kaeppler,24 Gathercole25 and Coote,26 we have a better idea of where
artefacts associated with Cook’s three voyages are resting. However, I am curious to understand
how two or three highly prized taonga attributed to Banks and or Cook came to leave
their Maori kin communities in the first place. ere has been some speculation concerning
acquisition of the Tübingen poupou (carved slab of totara wood) but I leave that for others to
focus on.27 My fascination lies with the personal; with wearable markers of status that even
today are withheld, sometimes for generations, until an appropriate receiver and occasion
warrants release. Furthermore, the receiver would be made aware of the symbolic import of
accepting such things; obligations of reciprocity, the relationship inherent in the item and, not
least, the custodial duties one must thereafter carry when caring for such an ancestor treasure,
or what we call he taonga.
In 2006, the trust board of the Auckland War Memorial Museum/Tamaki Paenga Hira
invited me to assist with finding an appropriate quotation to be engraved on the entrance
of our new $NZ80 million Grand Atrium. e quotation needed to not only capture the
museum’s ANZAC spirit but also signify the promise of peace for which many sacrificed their
lives. Musings of Greek philosophers were compared to more modern day quotes from Te
Whiti, Ghandi, John F Kennedy and Martin Luther King. But none seemed to hit the mark
until we turned to Auckland’s local tribe, Ngati Whatua o Orakei. Why turn to them? e
trust board recognised them as not only having been associated with the region for over 24
generations (through senior Arawa and Tainui descent lines), but also having successfully held
exclusive authority over the Auckland Isthmus for the past 250 plus years.28 It was decided
this in itself at least qualified Ngati Whatua o Orakei to present a perspective, if they had one.
eir response captured everyone’s imagination:
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Ko nga kuri purepure o Tamaki e kore e ngaro i te po
(ose great chiefs [metaphorically referenced as spotted dogs] of Tamaki
[Auckland Isthmus] who would lead in peace or in war can never rest)
is ancient proverb of the Auckland Isthmus was presented by the late Ngati Whatua leader
Sir Kawharu in 2006. It alludes to not just ancient rights of birth, but also the inherent
responsibilities of leadership: a kin’s survival rested on the vigilance of leaders, not least the
paramount chief, or ariki. It was what he wore that set him apart from the rest through the
generations — kuri purepure — the spotted dog-skin cloak.
While in discussion with Ngati Whatua about the possible use of the ancient proverb, I was
also contemplating this paper. Imagining the Maori world-view of 1769, when Tupaea sailed
over the horizon in a strange vessel, was bending my mind. How did my ancestors react to
seeing one of their own kin from their ancient homeland of Rangiatea–Tawhiti, commanding
a crew of strange looking men armed with equally strange, magical-like weapons? From first
Fig. 5. Kuri purepure, flax and dog hair cloak presented to Christ Church, Oxford, by Joseph Banks, about 1771
Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford
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Fig. 6. Chief wearing an ihupukupuku (full dog skin cloak), 1769–70
engraving after a sketch by Sydney Parkinson
source tba
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encounter it appears Tupaea left Maori in little doubt that he was ariki — he demonstrated
genealogical–esoteric knowledge of the high-born, wielded great authority over strange men
and weapons, and spoke the ancient dialect of the tapu (restricted) priestly-schooled elite.
Word quickly spread throughout Te Ika a Maui (North Island) of the arrival of their
ancestral matua (respected father) from the most revered of marae in the entire eastern Pacific:
Taputapuatea (navigational homeland marae of famous waka like Te Arawa, Tainui, Mataatua,
Aotea, Kurahaupo). All Maori he encountered during the Endeavour’s circumnavigation of
New Zealand were in awe and he was treated with the highest respect. Tupaea never visited
Tamaki but, if he had, I do not doubt Ngati Whatua would have prestated him a kuri purepure
in recognition of his ariki status, cementing a relational intention of reciprocity (utu) for future
generations to activate as required.
Ngati Whatua are not unique in this way of thinking. In fact, the presence of dog skin
or hair on any cloak, weapon or in carving, to denote high genealogical status, is familiar to
most if not all tribes. Up until recent times, the dog was indulged by chiefly families like a
favoured child, fulfilling roles of companionship, warmth, hunting and guardianship. On
occasion, chiefly dogs were sometimes ritually killed either to manufacture a garment marking
a special event, like the death of a leader;29 or to provide chiefly nourishment to an ariki who
was visiting: reflecting status of guest and generosity of host.30 ere is even a tribe in the far
north, that honours both dog and ancestor, named Ngati Kuri.
Inappropriate killing of such dogs triggered major wars and, in the case of Te Arawa, led
to their migration from Rangiatea–Tawhiti some 24 generations ago. Whereas a number of
descendants of Atuamatua (and Te Arawa’s dog, Potaka Tawhiti, that was eaten by a rival
tribe) consequently migrated from Taputapuatea to Aotearoa, their wider relations remained
in Rangiatea. One can only speculate how overwhelming it would have been, 16 generations
later, for a Maori leader to genealogically connect to an ariki like Tupaea through the common
ancestry of Atuamatua. Such a significant occasion might have elicited a feasting of dog in
his honour31 and prestations of significant taonga that were both highly personal (like hei tiki)
but also symbolised rank and common ancestry (cloaks adorned with dog hair) (Figs 5, 6). In
a genealogical scenario of this imagining, no prestation to Tupaea could have been greater or
more fitting than a kuri purepure.
e journals of the Endeavour talk about crew members’ constant failure to secure (through
bartering) prized adornments representing leadership, like dog-skin cloaks and items made
from greenstone. We now have evidence that at least two dog-skin cloaks (kuri purepure and a
kaitaka kuri) and one hei tiki did come into Banks and Cook’s possession on the first voyage.32
How did this occur and why are the Endeavour journals mute regarding such yearned for
success? What role did Tupaea play in this?
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Perhaps it was Tupaea who was originally prestated the chiefly garments associated with
Cook and Banks and not least the hei tiki that was eventually passed into King George III’s
And was it during such occasions that Tupaea reciprocated in a uniquely Polynesian way by
presenting his name to the Maori people?
One can only speculate 200 odd years after the fact. From a Maori perspective it is
inconceivable that tribes’ most valued taonga like kahu kuri (dog-skin garments) and pounamu
(greenstone), reflecting both presenter and receiver’s status, were not offered to Tupaea. And
for him to have refused would have been equally inconceivable. Not unimaginable, however,
would have been Tupaea’s likely response if aware of either Cook or Banks’s obvious envy by
perhaps handing them to his English equals with a statement like: ‘Here, now you look after
them for me’. Like footprints in the sand, what real evidence exists today that prestations to
Tupaea ever took place?
It was while contemplating such a thought that I received Jeremy Coote’s publication:
Curiosities from the Endeavour: A Forgotten Collection. I was familiar with Coote’s research,
having shared his excitement while visiting Pitt Rivers Museum in 2003. It was the colour
reproduction of the original Benjamin West portrait of Banks (Fig. 7), however, that engaged
me in a new way. Whether deliberately or just coincidentally, the wearer holds the viewer
with a direct gaze and is portrayed pointing to the tufts of dog hair bordering the taniko on
an extremely fine kaitaka: a garment of great status reserved for chiefs to wear, now doubly
elevated by its dog-hair adornment. As the still young Banks posed, he was aware of its
significance, having logged on the eve of his departure from New Zealand in March 1870 that,
‘the great pride of [Maori] dress seems to consist in dog fur, which they used so sparingly’.34
e cloak’s unquestionable status reminds me of the collection of beautiful cloaks which
I viewed in the 1990s at the British Museum that are tentatively provenanced to the first
voyage. Although official voyage writings render Tupaea as near invisible, the existence of
these most prized taonga suggests another Endeavour narrative of first contact lies in waiting.
Eight generations later we are left asking questions: So how did these exquisite taonga come
to be in the possession of a young gentleman amateur of science who, by all accounts, was not
averse to seeking adventure in between his botanising?
Closer inspection of Banks’s kuri purepure reveals that, like the kaitaka, it too is finely
woven. It is uniquely designed to prevent penetration of an enemy dagger or spear by
employing a taniko-like, compacted, single-pair twining throughout. e attention to detail in
the presentation of borders, knotting and integration of tufts of dog hair is uniquely superior.
So did Banks win the affections of an arikis daughter? Did he save the life of a chief ’s son?
His journal is deafeningly quiet. To receive such a taonga of the status these cloaks represent,
implies that the presenter(s) held Banks in the same high regard they would have credited
Tupaea. Does the evidence support this?
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Fig. 7. Portrait
of Joseph
Banks, 1773
by Benjamin
source tba
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e high regard in which Maori held Tupaea was not shared by Banks himself. In his
writings, it appears that he was not overly impressed with him, even suggesting Tupaea was so
proud and obstinate that ‘… he often made his situation on board both Disagreeable to himself
and those about him’.35 Having lived in close quarters for some months, it is to be expected
that Banks would find Tupaea’s culturally idiosyncratic ways a little foreign. Yet Banks and
Cook remained uncomfortably dependent on Tupaea to negotiate the initial encounters36
of each landing. ey were dependent on him for navigation to new isles, diplomatic and
translation services, and negotiation of safe landing and provisions. is would quite likely
have grated on Banks and his stated reason for taking him on board in the first instance: ‘I do
not know why I may not keep him as a curiosity, as well as some of my neighbours do lions and
tygers’,37 and may have contributed to his and Cook’s irritation. For whatever reason, Tupaea’s
not insignificant contributions to the 1768–71 voyage have remained largely unexplored in
academic circles.
Adding to the circumstantial evidence of Tupaea’s high status is the recent discovery that
the naïve first voyage watercolours tentatively attributed to Banks are almost surely the work
of Tupaea (Fig. 8). is has awakened scholars to the possibility that he was more than just a
convenient translator who died en route while hitching a ride to England. With this in mind,
Fig. 8. Maori Bartering a Crayfish, 1769 by
British Library, 15508 no. 11
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I would like to suggest that Tupaea may well have played a much more pivotal role in the
voyage, as first articulated by Greg Dening38 and later taken up by omas.39 It appears that
his role was not lost on the local Maori. By November 1769, word had spread far and wide of
Tupaea and his ship. For example, on arriving at Waiau (Coromandel), the local tribes called
for Tupaea by name.40 When Cook returned on his second voyage, Maori greeted him again
by shouting for Tupaea and grieved when told he was dead. As Salmond states: ‘It seems that
Maori thought the Endeavour was Tupaia’s ship, and they mourned him and remembered him
for generations’.41
e above evidence suggests that museums — repositories into which Cook’s and Banks’s
‘artificial curiosities’ eventually settled — are surprisingly well positioned to add a fresh
voice to the Endeavour discourse, not least to the foundations of identity on which New
Zealand’s nationhood has been built. Apart from a scattering of other verifiable items, the
Christ Church collection provides us with a unique window of opportunity to view original
‘artificial curiosities’ acquired by either Banks or Cook from NewZealand on the Endeavour
voyage. From a Maori perspective the taonga — the symbolic genealogical representations of
trust — within this collection appear to validate Tupaea’s chiefly influence on the voyage at a
critical juncture. In his own way, he ensured that the Endeavour and those it encountered while
circumnavigating New Zealand, inflicted the minimum of harm on each other.
Luckily for Cook, Tupaea was more than some hapless Polynesian hitchhiker picked up on a
whim by Banks in Tahiti. He may well have been on an important mission of his own. Salmond
suggests ‘he was taking the Endeavour on an Arioi voyage’, guided by his ancestor ‘Oro back
through the ancestral islands to the west.42 e rituals observed by the crew appear to indicate
as much.43 Perhaps Tupaea also saw taking passage as a strategic opportunity to visit Britain
the source of firearms the Tahitians fatally experienced first-hand when Samuel Wallis and the
Dolphin visited in 1767.44 It is quite likely that Tupaea sought to acquire firearms and return to
liberate his homeland of Raiatea from his Porapora (Borabora) enemies. In Ra‘iatean, his name
Tupa‘ia [Tupakia] means ‘beaten’. According to Salmond, and corroborated by Ra‘iatean elders
of Opoa, he took this name after the Porapora (Borabora) defeat of Taputapuatea.45 Although
Tupaea never made it to Britain, his successor, Mai (also known as Omai), did. While holding
court with King George III, Mai apparently announced that he came to England ‘for gunpowder
to destroy the inhabitants of Porapora (Borabora) who are our enemies’.46 In due course this
was achieved after Mai took passage home to Ra‘iatea with Cook on his third voyage.47
Returning to Cook’s first voyage, we can only speculate about whether he and Banks
would have survived their first Maori encounters without Tupaea there to mitigate the
force of numbers that could have easily overwhelmed the Endeavour’s landing crew on any
number of occasions. From first encounter, things did not go well for Cook, resulting in the
deaths of those he was trying to befriend. According to various descendants today, Tupaea’s
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intervention and diplomacy at a number of landings appears to have prevented Cook from
suffering a similar fate to that which befell French explorer Marion du Fresne just a couple of
years later.48 Cook’s later voyages suffered for not having someone of Tupaea’s calibre on board
to translate, mediate, negotiate and protect Cook from his own ignorance49 and in Hawai‘i,
almost inevitably, his luck finally deserted him.
One can only wonder what may have become of Tupaea if indeed he had made safe passage
to England. Would he have held court with King George III? Would Tupaea have become a
‘curio celebre’ indulged by aristocracy, and then have taken firearms back to the Pacific on
Cook’s second voyage? is action would have released Ra‘iatea from their neighbouring
enemies and Mai would most likely have remained home to help his uncle Tupaea lead the war
on Porapora (Borabora).50
If Tupaea had reached England would his observations, drawings and accounts have been
accepted with equal validity alongside Cook and Banks? And would the Endeavour-associated
curios have been more accurately credited when placed in museums? Tupaea’s demise in
Batavia (Jakarta) rendered his contribution to the Endeavour voyage in general, and New
Zealand’s nationhood in particular, all but invisible. Like an uncharted rock just below the
surface, his unrecognised influence continues to quietly ripple and shape our maps, history
books and museums.
So what happened to Tupaea’s belongings, the taonga, after his death? Surely a high priest
of ariki status would have had his own personal adornments? Perhaps the chiefly breast
ornament51 and flute52 now properly attributed as part of Banks’s Christ Church collection53
were originally Tupaea’s personal possessions. Given the relatively low value such items
represented to English society in the Enlightenment, I suggest the same fate befell his taonga
as did his watercolours. Labelling was not a priority and the high mortality later in the voyage
(in Batavia and en route to South Africa, which left only Banks, Solander and two servants
of the original collecting team standing) undoubtedly gave rise to confusion. Keeping the
scientifically important specimens in some order would have been a priority on the sick ship
and likely contributed to Banks’s assimilation of any Tupaea-associated ‘artificial curiosities’
on his returning home after three years at sea.
e first encounters between two cultures and their disparate value systems (one based
on a genealogically-connected universe, the other on a scientifically rationalised set of written
proofs) were not only recorded by the visitors — charts, maps, tables, diarised observations
of the ‘other’ and collected materials (fauna, flora and curiosities); but also carefully observed,
memorised and recounted by those who were visited. Each culture perpetuated these encounters
through time, one in writing and museums, the other through a cross-generational trajectory
of oral narrative, song, dance, prayer and art (carving and weaving). Until recently, marae elders
generally still believed Tupaea navigated the Endeavour and that, without his protection, Cook
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and his crew would not have left New Zealand’s shores. is assertion perhaps also indicates
that Pacific leaders at time of contact and beyond were not willing victims of colonisation.
In fact, their genealogical predisposition to explore new opportunities — Rangatira/Potiki
dynamic54— predisposed Polynesian leaders to embrace the arrival of foreign powers and seek
out any competitive advantage they might provide to their kin over neighbouring rival tribes.55
Even today, Maori tribes still act and behave like Pacific Island communities, ceremonially
pulling the canoe of visitors onto their marae during formal encounters, despite not having
deep-ocean voyaged for 20 or more generations.
But what Pacific leadership could not anticipate was the long term effect that a monetary
value system based on the commodification of land would exert on the economic, social,
political and spiritual wellbeing of kinship systems that were driven by genealogical obligations
of reciprocity and belonging. Out of economic necessity, political agendas of colonisation
eventually marginalised the authenticity of Pacific voices — setting them to mute — and
provided the new arrivals and descendants with museum-authenticated nation-narratives to
justify European settlement and resource exploitation. Within 130 years of Cook’s arrival,
Maori were being portrayed as a dying race.56 ey no longer held any meaningful control in
New Zealand or its future. Marae the parliaments of the Maori became economically
isolated. All their productive lands were now under Pakeha ownership and their communities
were living in relative poverty, barely a fifth of the population when Cook first arrived.57 Since
1967, the Endeavour has been portrayed on New Zealand’s currency; Cook’s and Banks’s names
are repeated thousands of times on or in maps, geographical features, street signs, schools,
textbooks, libraries and museums in every corner of the land. So pervasive is Cook, that
imagining a New Zealand (let alone an Australia!) without him playing the lead role may well
be considered ‘heresy’.58
Institutions like the Auckland Museum, as temples in miniature to empire and the colonial
expansion into which the whole world was haphazardly captured, have played a key role in
validating and affirming the constantly changing ideological history of colonial New Zealand’s
Fig. 9. Te Hono ki Ranana
(Kaitaka over the British
Museum) (detail, full
image p. 85), 1998, by
John Bevan Ford
British Museum
Discovering Cook TEXT.indd 108 15/12/09 6:19 PM
dominant culture from one generation to the next. ese were places where the ‘other’ (from
a Maori perspective) could publicly justify its rights of authority over a colonised landscape
a re-presentation according to the colonisers, the collectors, not the colonised and collected.
Until recently, layers of museum interpretation (publications, labels, public programs) have
been generated, revised and superseded without reference to originating kin narratives and the
associated values that remain alive in Maori tribal source communities.
Perhaps it is no coincidence that taonga in museums mirror ancestral landmarks on maps:
both represent genealogical moments in time — a matrix of event, ancestor and place — which
have undergone similar trajectories of historical disassociation, alienation or reassignment of
names. Distance between islands was measured in terms of relationships and resources across
generations of genealogical time, not how many degrees or crossings of the sun. e island that
was sought arrived when it arrived, so long as you accounted and adjusted for the prevailing
currents, winds, tides, swells, seasonal shifts in latitude and weather patterns en route. When
this was re-presented on two-dimensional maps it was dismissed as naive and lacking scale, not
unlike Pacific art until recent times. Museums and academia are slowly redressing this apparent
cross-cultural oversight.
Twenty years on from the Te Maori exhibition,59 it appears that museums are finally accepting
that there is more than one narrative to any Pacific artefact, be it a taonga or a map. But, without
returning to source communities, I suggest that the underlying motivations of those whom the
Endeavour encountered will remain hidden, preventing fuller understanding of key moments
when our two world- views kin-accountability and cash-economy — irreversibly collided.
Despite the resulting domination of an outside value system of nationhood, legal transactions
and global market forces, our taonga still navigate their way through the generations. So long as
the marae-context remains intact, source communities will continue to be available to provide
solutions for museums and, by extension, for the nations they represent.
Tupaea today
For Maori, Tupaea may have trodden lightly on our beaches, but his footprints continue to
pattern our memories through oral history. Eight generations later, we still respect the influence
he had on our identity by naming our children after him. When he arrived on our shores it
appears that our people heard him pronounce his Ra‘iatean name ‘Tupa‘ia’ as ‘Tupaea’ (Tu: stand;
Paea: cast ashore). By presenting his name as it is remembered by Maori, this chapter provides
another yet another layer of narrative to the Endeavour encounter. e places he visited also
remain alive, carried among descendants of those who hosted him and his peculiar entourage
over 200 years ago. e same footsteps, embodied in the woven or carved ‘artificial curiosities’
of Cook’s first voyage, are not confined to New Zealand’s shores, but also echo through the
marbled hallways of some of Europe’s finest institutions of memory. Notwithstanding the
Discovering Cook TEXT.indd 109 15/12/09 6:19 PM
1 Prestation refers to ceremonial and ritual
presentations in a public space.
2 See S Low, ‘Nainoa ompson’s path to knowledge:
How Hokule’a’s navigator finds his way’, in KR Howe
(ed.), Vaka Moana: Voyages of the Ancestors (David
Bateman Ltd and Auckland Museum, Auckland,
2006), pp. 23–53, for more in-depth discussion on
this navigational relationship.
3 Toiawa — see Te Taniwha’s account of the 1769
Endeavour visit in A Salmond, Two Worlds (Viking,
Auckland, 1991), pp.88, 207.
4 Tuki Tahua and Ngahuruhuru in Norfolk Island, 1793;
D Collins, An Account of the English Colony in New
South Wales, Cadell & Davies, London, 1798.
5 For Tupaea’s 1769 maps, see A Di Piazza & E
Pearthree, ‘A new reading of Tupaia’s chart’, in Journal
of the Polynesian Society, vol. 116, no. 3, September
2007,323, 325.
6 For example, GM Dening, ‘e geographical
knowledge of the Polynesians and the nature of
inter-island contact’, in J Golson (ed.), Polynesian
Navigation: A Symposium on Andrew Sharp’s eor y of
Accidental Voyages, e Polynesian Society, Wellington,
1963, pp.102–53; B Finney, ‘Nautical cartography and
traditional navigation in Oceania’, in D Woodward and
G Malcolm Lewis (eds), e History of Cartog raphy:
Cartography in the Traditional African, American, Artic,
Australian, and Pacific Societies, vol. 2, book 3, e
University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1998, pp. 443–
94; GRLewthwaite, ‘e puzzle of Tupaia’s map’, New
Zealand Geographer, no. 26, 1970, 1–19; Nomas, In
Oceania: Visions, Artifacts, Histories, Duke University
Press, Durham, NC, 1997; DTurnbull, ‘Cook and
Tupaia, a tale of cartographic Méconnaissance’, in M
Lincoln (ed.), Science and Exploration in the Pacific.
European Voyages to the Southern Oceans in the
Eighteenth Century, e Boydell Press in association
with the National Maritime Museum, Suffolk, 1998,
7 Two maps and five associated plotting diagrams
derived from subject-centred sailing directions to
distant islands, have been translated into Western
frames of reference and superimposed on Tupaea’s
1769 chart of the Pacific (see Fig. 3).is composite
map for the first time successfully demonstrates the
accuracy of Polynesian deep-ocean voyaging at the
time of European contact (Di Piazza & Pearthree, ‘A
new reading of Tupaia’s chart’, p. 337).
8 ibid., p.324.
9 Site visit by author and Professor Yosi Sinoto in
August 2007.
10 For example, Banks noted in his journal that, despite
Tupaea being of little further use once the Endeavour
left New Zealand waters, he could nevertheless
accurately point the direction of his home marae.
11 See for example Joseph Banks, e Endeavour Journal
of Joseph Banks 1768–1771, JCBeaglehole (ed.),
Trustees of the Public Library of New South Wales in
association with Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1962,
vol. 1, pp.319–320.
12 Like those compiled from previous voyages of
Tasman and Wallis: see Salmond, Two Worlds, 1991,
13 ibid., p.312, note 3.
14 ibid., p.318.
15 Also see Di Piazza and Pearthree, ‘A new reading
of Tupaia’s chart’, for demonstration of further
supporting evidence especially concerning Tupaea’s
16 For example, La Nuova Zelanda — a chart produced
by Italian cartographer Antonio Zatta (1757–97) —
Christ Church collection, evidence of Tupaea’s presence remains near invisible while public
attention is time and again focused by academic activities toward the deeds and collections of
Cook and Banks. Tupaea — represented by his tangible (Pacific mapping, artwork and taonga)
and intangible (navigation, diplomatic, translation and negotiation services) contributions to
the Royal Society’s HMB Endeavour expedition (1768–71) deserves his very own walk in
academic and museological history as an equal alongside Cook and Banks.
Today I fetched my son from his Maori preschool and smiled to myself when I again saw
his friend, Tupaea. I felt the deep genealogical current of Pacific interconnectivity shiver up my
spine as my son held my hand and I thought of our recent visit to Taputapuatea.
Kei te pai e Papa? Ka nui te pai e Tama, ka nui te pai.
(‘Dad, are you OK?’ ‘Excellent, son. Excellent.’)
Discovering Cook TEXT.indd 110 15/12/09 6:19 PM
in D Small (ed.), Map New Zealand (Random House,
Auckland, 2006), p.12.
17 See Introduction in OStead (ed.), 150 Treasures from
the Auckland War Memorial Museum (David Bateman
Press, Auckland, 2002), which outlines the influences
surrounding the collection habits of Auckland
Museum’s first professional curator CF Cheeseman.
18 DI Pool, Te Iwi Maori: A New Zealand Population, Past,
Present and Projected, Auckland University Press,
Auckland, 1991.
19 Stead, 150 Treasures, p.40.
20 Banks, e Endeavour Journal of Joseph Banks, vol. 1,
21 Daniel Solander, Herman Diedrich Spöring, Alexander
Buchan, Sydney Parkinson and four servants.
22 J Coote, Curiosities from the Endeavour: A Forgotten
Collection — Pacific Artefacts given by Joseph Banks to
Christ Church, Oxford, after the First Voyage, Captain
Cook Memorial Museum, Whitby, 2004, p.5
23 A Kaeppler, Artificial Curiosities ’: Being an Exposition
of Native Manufactures Collected on the ree Pacific
Voyages of Captain James Cook, R.N., at the Bernice
Pauahi Bishop Museum, January 18, 1978–August
31, 1978: On the Occasion of the Bicentennial of the
European Discovery of the Hawaiian Islands by Captain
Cook, January 18, 1778, Bishop Museum Press,
Honolulu, 1978.
24 Kaeppler, Artificial Curiosities ’.
25 P Gathercole, Lord Sandwich’s Collection of Polynesian
Artefacts, in Science and Exploration in the Pacific:
European Voyages to the Southern Oceans in the
18th Century, M Lincoln (ed.), e Boydell Press,
Woodbridge, 1998, pp. 103–15.
26 Coote, Curiosities.
27 A Salmond, e Trial of the Cannibal Dog: Captain Cook
in the South Seas, Allen Lane and Penguin Press, 2003,
28 P Tapsell, ‘e genesis of Taumata-a-Iwi Tamaki
Paenga Hira’, in With a View to the Future, Museum
Circle Foundation, Auckland, 2006, pp. 8–17.
29 For example, Te Kahumamae o Pareraututu, in P
Tapsell, Ko Tawa: Maori Treasures of New Zealand,
David Bateman Ltd and Auckland Museum, Auckland,
30 Tupaea’s feast of dog offered to Banks at Taputapuatea
in Banks, e Endeavour Journal of Joseph Banks,
vol.1, pp.292–93.
31 See Banks, e Endeavour Journal of Joseph Banks,
vol.1, p.455, for an example of dog being prepared as
a food-gift for the Endeavour.
32 Coote, Curiosities; e Royal Collection: e-Gallery
ow=11&detail=about (accessed 24 September 2008).
33 See RCIN 69263 associated text online for discussion on
Cook’s presentation.
34 Banks, e Endeavour Journal of Joseph Banks, vol. 2,
35 ibid., pp.446–47.
36 A Salmond, ‘Two worlds’, in Vaka Moana: Voyages of
the Ancestors, David Bateman Ltd, Auckland, 2006,
37 Banks, e Endeavour Journal of Joseph Banks, vol. 1,
38 Dening, ‘e geographical knowledge of the
39 Nicholas omas, Entangled Objects: Exchange,
Material Culture, and Colonialism in the Pacific, Harvard
University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1991.
40 Salmond, Two Worlds, 1991, p.208.
41 ibid.
42 Salmond, ‘Two worlds’, 2006, p.260.
43 ibid.
44 ibid., p.254.
45 Pers. comm., 2007.
46 J Newell, Cook’s Pacific Encounters, National Museum
of Australia Press, Canberra, 2006, p.39.
47 ibid., p.40.
48 See Salmond, Two Worlds, 1991, p.395, for an account
of Marion’s execution for breaching tapu–spiritual
49 See Salmond, e Trial of the Cannibal Dog, for
examples of misunderstandings, etc.
50 Interestingly, in 1818, a Maori warlord, Hongi Hika,
similarly travelled to England to acquire firearms,
tipping the tribal balance of the North Island and
resulting in widespread killing throughout the early
1820s, see D Urlich-Cloher, Hongi Hika, Warrior Chief,
Viking, Auckland, 2003, for a full biography on Hongi
51 PRM 1887.1.392.
52 PRM 1903130.20.
53 Coote, Curiosities, p.10.
54 P Tapsell and CR Woods, ‘Potikitanga: Indigenous
entrepreneurship in a Maori context’, Journal of
Enterprising Communities: People and Places in the Global
Economy, vol. 2, issue 3, 2008, 192–203.
55 H Petrie, Chiefs of Industry: Maori Tribal Enterprise in
Early Colonial New Zealand, Auckland University Press,
Auckland, 2006; also see omas, Entangled Objects,
for discussion on Maori agency in early contact New
56 See James Bellich, Paradise Reforged: A History of
New Zealanders from the 1880s to the Year 2000 (Allen
Lane and Penguin Press, Auckland, 2001), for a
commentary on New Zealander attitudes toward
Maori from the 1880s.
57 DU Urlich, ‘e distribution and migrations of the
North Island Maori population about 1800–1840’,
MA esis, University of Auckland, 1969; Pool, 1991.
58 See Greg Ansley, ‘Rewriting our history’, regarding the
inclusion of Tupaea alongside Cook in the founding
nation narratives of New Zealand and Australia (New
Zealand Herald, 5 August 2006, B7).
59 International touring Maori exhibition 1984–87.
Discovering Cook TEXT.indd 111 15/12/09 6:19 PM
... 12 their perception of the value of taonga-both aesthetically and financially-has been apparent since the return of James cook's Endeavour to england in 1771. 13 the rarity and exotic nature of cook's voyages' 'artificial curiosities' initiated two centuries of collecting from throughout the Pacific. 14 taonga entered museums around the world as prized curiosities, representing new Zealand's noble savage prior to colonial enlightenment. ...
Full-text available
In the Maori world, taonga and stories are intimately connected. Be it a song or a weapon, a painting or a cloak, taonga open doorways to ancestral imaginings of time and place. But what happens when the resources that define taonga are appropriated by another value system, and recast in terms of ownership rather than belonging? What stories are then attached to taonga, so many of which are commoditised along with the landscapes to which they relate? In The Art of Taonga, Paul Tapsell takes us on a journey from before the time of Tupaea, a traveller on Cook’s Endeavour in 1769, to today. He surveys the changing meanings of taonga, including the re-engagement by source communities with their ancestral treasures, arguing that rather than being fixed in the past, the dynamic concept of taonga always responds to changing contexts and conditions. Acknowledging the crisis facing marae communities, and the concurrent dislocation of urban Maori, Tapsell interrogates the precarious future of a guiding tradition that reaches back to ancestral Hawaiki. Professor of Maori Studies and Dean of Te Tumu, the School of Maori, Pacific and Indigenous Studies at the University of Otago, Paul Tapsell is the author of the prize-winning Pukaki: A Comet Returns (2000), Ko Tawa: Maori Treasures of New Zealand (2006) and many scholarly essays on taonga and their place in the Maori world.
Full-text available
This article sets out to globalize Māori museology through mana taonga, a concept that is historically grounded and articulated in contemporary museum practice. Mana taonga can be used to reconceptualize issues of engagement, knowledge, and virtuality by exploring ways in which the mutual, asymmetrical relations underpinning global, scientific entanglements of the past can be transformed into reciprocal, symmetrical forms of cross-cultural curatorship and anthropology in the present. In doing so, the Cook/Forster Collection held at the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Germany, is being (re)approached from a Māori perspective. This collection embodies the first material evidence of the remarkable encounter between Pacific and European people in the 1700s and materializes the moment when two worlds of meaning became entangled and mutually constitutive with continuing significance for Pacific people and European understandings. Reconnecting both sides of the encounter through research on the history of the collection, its contemporary legacy, and Māori engagements with Western anthropology and museology allows us to correct lopsided (re)interpretations of indigenous cultures in exhibitionary projects and one-sided accounts of museums and indigenous people that dominate the literature.
Purpose – This paper examines the models used to teach and encourage indigenous entrepreneurial activity, with a focus on indigenous entrepreneurship in a Maori context. Design/methodology/approach – In particular, the paper explores the pedagogical challenges from the perspective of indigenous entrepreneurship understood from a Maori context and draws on an historical and cultural analysis of kin accountability within a tribal context to explore the pedagogical challenges faced when working with a new generation of aspiring entrepreneurially‐minded Maori. Three short case studies are provided as illustrative examples. Findings – The paper finds that entrepreneurial models focusing on opportunity‐seeking potiki (aspiring younger individuals) will likely remain limited in application until they successfully integrate the genealogical check and balance of the potiki, namely the elder‐rangatira. This rangatira: potiki customary leadership tension has been Maori society's generative survival portal to taking advantage of new opportunities (potikitanga) for 100 or more generations. The paper suggests that while Maori ventures may adequately reflect what constitutes successful commercial entrepreneurship, such ventures also need to be further developed in terms of kin‐accountability beyond current social/economic entrepreneurial thinking if they are to legitimately benefit Maori society. Originality/value – Although only one cultural context is examined, this paper demonstrates the potential benefit of a deeper understanding of the cultural genealogical setting when developing models to work with indigenous entrepreneurs.
The Trial of the Cannibal Dog: Captain Cook in the South Seas
  • A Salmond
A Salmond, The Trial of the Cannibal Dog: Captain Cook in the South Seas, Allen Lane and Penguin Press, 2003, pp. 126-7.
The endeavour, for an example of dog being prepared as a food-gift for the Endeavour
  • See Banks
31 See Banks, The endeavour Journal of Joseph Banks, vol. 1, p. 455, for an example of dog being prepared as a food-gift for the Endeavour.
Parkinson and four servants
  • Daniel Solander
  • Herman Diedrich Spöring
  • Alexander Buchan
Daniel Solander, Herman Diedrich Spöring, Alexander Buchan, Sydney Parkinson and four servants.
The endeavourThe geographical knowledge of the Polynesians
  • Banks
37 Banks, The endeavour Journal of Joseph Banks, vol. 1, p. 313. 38 Dening, 'The geographical knowledge of the Polynesians'.
Curiosities from the endeavour: A Forgotten Collection — Pacific Artefacts given by Joseph Banks to Christ Church, Oxford, after the First Voyage, Captain Cook Memorial Museum
  • Coote
Coote, Curiosities from the endeavour: A Forgotten Collection — Pacific Artefacts given by Joseph Banks to Christ Church, Oxford, after the First Voyage, Captain Cook Memorial Museum, Whitby, 2004, p. 5
The Royal Collection: e-gallery Online, tegory=BFINSIGNIA+AND+MEDALS&object=69263&r ow=11&detail=about
  • Curiosities Coote
Coote, Curiosities; The Royal Collection: e-gallery Online, tegory=BFINSIGNIA+AND+MEDALS&object=69263&r ow=11&detail=about (accessed 24 September 2008).
Rewriting our history', regarding the inclusion of Tupaea alongside Cook in the founding nation narratives of New Zealand and Australia (New Zealand Herald
  • Ansley See
See greg Ansley, 'Rewriting our history', regarding the inclusion of Tupaea alongside Cook in the founding nation narratives of New Zealand and Australia (New Zealand Herald, 5 August 2006, B7).