Captain James Cook 3
Continued on from Captain Cook Part 2
Captain James Cook's young life had led him to a life at sea that was sober and hard working. He had learned the trade of the mariner well at Whitby under the tutelage of his Quaker teachers, the Walkers. In Yorkshire, 1738, a young boy climbs a hill to see the spread out hills and the coast. Lieutenant James Cook is now an officer in the Royal British Navy and is headed into the Pacific Ocean towards Tahiti. He will find new peoples and chart new islands. In 1769 Europeans had known about Tahiti for just one year because of the discovery by HMS Dolphin. They think it is heaven on earth. The food was good and the natives were friendly.
The planet Venus is about to pass over the sun and the accurate fixing of the position of Venus in relation to the sun would help navigators tremendously. Cook builds a fort and tries to arrange amicable relationships with the Tahitian islanders. The astronomers observe the transit of Venus on the specific day. There were some extraneous factors that distracted the scientific calculations and the observations are not a great success. So Cook turned to his secret orders to search for the Great Southern Land.
The Great Southern Continent was an old legend and map makers could not refrain from putting it in world maps. A great European race had begun to find more colonies and trade. Cook's secret order were to put to sea and discover this southern land. Joseph Banks is a young man with a passion for natural history. He brings back a Tahitian priest as a type of curiosity and exhibit. Cook sees him as a source of navigational knowledge. He is willing to learn from local knowledge. But Tupaia does not know of any great southern continent.
Cook begins to take an interest in natural history and starts describing the sea birds that he is seeing on his voyage. Cook belongs at sea, he was an instinctive mariner. But Cook is doubtful that the Great Southern Land exists at all. Banks is a great believer in the southern continent because of his friendship with Dalrymple. Cook sails to 40 degrees South but finds nothing. He goes back to his secret orders and it tells him to sail west to the continent discovered by Abel Tasman.
Cook sails west and comes to New Zealand and drops anchor at the area of what is now Gisbourne. They are watched by the Maori local tribes and to this day the story is told of the first meeting with Captain Cook. Temoru, a chief, was killed and the Maori tribes saw this as an invasion. When Cook met the Maoris for the first time, he rubbed noses and brought the dangerous situation under control. But a maori warrior took a sword and he was shot. There are two sides to this story - either colonial exploitation or discovery for king and country.
The Voyages of Captain James Cook Part 4 continued