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Skip to 0 minutes and 5 seconds My mother’s ancestors, great, great, great grandparents are the people who actually encountered Cook when he first arrived. What’s been neglected in their histories up to this point is the oral histories. Because everything has been based on what’s been written. And the unfortunate outcome of that process is that it discounts our narrative histories, pre-European. Anne Salmond has done, she’s a Cook scholar. So she turned up with all this information, which has been very useful, and very helpful. But she located that encounter that took place. She knew exactly where it was, because of the charts. She’d done an analysis of the charts. We knew exactly where it was.

Skip to 0 minutes and 48 seconds Then we worked out, well, the only people that were living in that region were our people. Known as Ngati Rangiiwaho. When Cook came to our region, no one knew who he was. The person they were talking to wasn’t Cook. It was actually a Tahitian navigator called Tupaia. The second day, what he did was he was determined to show the people that he meant well. And there was a fishing boat in the bay. And he set out to capture it, with intent to capture those people in the boat. And the kids, when they saw the boat coming, they threw all this stuff at the boat. They fought it off, basically. But he shot them. There were six people in the boat.

Skip to 1 minute and 25 seconds He shot four of them and took two. One of them, it was a girl and this boat. Here [? regardless, ?] well I’ve got a student who is doing a masters at the moment. And she’s actually related to that girl that was shot. And there are other stories of what took place from the beach, from the other perspective. You know? The puff of smoke. They were afraid of it. But they saw this fellow fall over, and then they worked out he wasn’t going to move, because it had gone right through his heart. It’s actually the whole, the first engagement with a musket.

Skip to 1 minute and 56 seconds So that the thing for us is that the first peaceful encounter was with the Endeavour, as it lay becalmed on the third day, off a place called Whareongaonga, which is south of Taungaatara. And those are the people who are our ancestors. And they traded. The items that were traded were well documented through Cook’s journals. What wasn’t documented was the things that came through oral traditions, for our great aunties, our great, great aunties that used to tell us. And the stories like they knew the person that met them, because they had a name. His name was Mickey. He was the rangatira at that stage. They also traded things like turnip seeds and potatoes.

Skip to 2 minutes and 38 seconds As a researcher, it’s interesting also to find out that one of the things that Cook and Tupaia were trading through the South Pacific, once they left Tahiti, was this thing called Georgian cloth, which is actually tapa cloth. And they also traded glass beads. And we located some glass beads, and the blue glass beads as well as nails. Our narratives tell us that a lot of those things actually weren’t sold or traded. They were actually gifted. They were gifted to Tupaia, because he was the rangatira, and he was a special person they wanted to talk to. Even though the two previous days, people had been murdered and shot, some in the water, some on the beach.

Skip to 3 minutes and 22 seconds What made Māori want to pursue the Endeavour to engage was the person that spoke Māori on that boat, and he was Tupaia. That’s only really come to light in the last 40 years, that there was this other guy on board the boat.

Landing and First Encounter

In this video, Steve Gibbs talks about the first encounters between his Māori ancestors, Cook and the crew of the Endeavour which would result in the deaths of many tangata whenua (people of the land) including Rangatira (leaders) from Turanganui (Poverty Bay).

Steve describes the importance of oral history, passed down through generational narratives, which create alternative versions of encounter and highlight the importance of Tupaia in the engagement of trade and relationships against the stories influenced by the journal accounts of Cook and Banks.

Steve is Ngāti Porou (tribal affiliation) and of Ngai Tamanuhiri, Ngati Rangiiwaho, Rongowhakaata, Rongomaiwahine, British hapu (sub-tribal groups).

How important are Steve’s narratives in assessing the events that took place that day?

How do they compare to the written sources of the Europeans?

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This video is from the free online course:

Confronting Captain Cook: Memorialisation in museums and public spaces

National Maritime Museum