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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 8 seconds I think it’s still very weird that we call things like the Cook Islands, you know, and that we still have these real testaments to who he was. Because I feel like who is he, really? He’s just a figure from a long time ago that really isn’t relevant anymore and shouldn’t really have such a– shouldn’t really be held in such high esteem, I think. After the voyages, it just opened up its space to all these– all these different entrepreneurial type people to make their way down to our area. I mean, the result was we got colonised big time.

Skip to 0 minutes and 51 seconds As an educator, as a kaiako, it’s like– yeah, I feel like it’s my place to highlight how education has been used to oppress, and assimilate, and colonise our people. I mean, I feel like most people know who he is. And you know, I feel like he’s taught about in our schools in history and stuff like that, which is kind of unfair, because there’s a lot of things that we are learning. The story of Cook, the moolelo of Cook becomes a genesis for Euro-Americans to enter Hawaiian time. And for me, it incorporates a misapprehension about history for Hawaiian people.

Skip to 1 minute and 38 seconds Because Hawaiian people are living in the ka pai aina o Hawaii, the Hawaiian Islands, the Hawaiian archipelago, for near on, what, 900 years prior to Europeans sort of stumbling across us. So to set the marker of the beginning of Hawaiian time at his arrival in 1778, for me, is a grave mistake. So for me, as a historian, Hawaiian time does not begin with Captain Cook. And every time, we have to revisit Cook’s legacy. We are forced to compress our historical imagination and our experience in our own islands to sort of before Cook, after Cook kind of ideas, if he’s Jesus Christ. You look at that apotheosis image.

Skip to 2 minutes and 34 seconds You look at the way that he was– he still is, to us, this, like, hero of this enlightenment.


In this video artwork, originally shown in Whitby Library, members of the Pacific community talk again, this time about the legacies of James Cook.

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This video is from the free online course:

Confronting Captain Cook: Memorialisation in museums and public spaces

National Maritime Museum