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This content is taken from the National Maritime Museum's online course, Confronting Captain Cook: Memorialisation in museums and public spaces. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 9 seconds Captain Cook has been seen as the provider of disease at the South Pacific, from one perspective. Another perspective, he’s actually a fantastic navigator, or a great discoverer. And as I’ve said earlier, you know, when you discover something, it means you have to find something that’s been lost. We’ve never regarded ourselves as being lost. We had an intruder in 1769 that changed the whole world that we lived in. And we’re the byproduct of that encounter.

One Māori Perspective on Cook

In this short video Steve Gibbs, artist and professor from Toihoukura School of Māori Visual Arts, talks about the complex reputation James Cook holds within his community.

Steve is Ngāti Porou (tribal affiliation) and of Ngai Tamanuhiri, Ngati Rangiiwaho, Rongowhakaata, Rongomaiwahine, British hapu (sub-tribal groups). They are the people who first encountered Cook and the crew when the Endeavour landed in Aotearoa/New Zealand.

In his video Steve reflects on how James Cook is sometimes called a ‘discoverer’, offering an alternative version from the perspective of his community. Whereas amongst European descendants, Cook is often seen as a founding father, for indigenous communities, Cook represents the decimation of populations and the taking of traditional land and rights.

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This video is from the free online course:

Confronting Captain Cook: Memorialisation in museums and public spaces

National Maritime Museum