This journey followed close upon the visit of the expedition on Tahiti to observe the transit of Venus. On 8 June 1769 the transit of Venus was successfully observed from three different points. After fulfilling his mission on Tahiti Cook resumed his voyage to fulfil the task given to him secretly by the Royal Society. On 7 September 1769 the Endeavour reached New Zealand, which had never been visited by any European after Abel Janszoon Tasman had discovered it on 13 December 1642. Tasman’s stay at New Zealand was not successful in the means of its discovery.
No trading had been done between the native Maori and Tasman’s crew. The first discovery by the Dutch businessmen Tasman was only the western coastline of New Zealand, which had been mapped afterwards. The first seven days of the journal had been taking place at ‘Cannibals Cove’ where the HMS Endeavour anchored for about twenty-three days. James Cook has given the name after he had an encounter with indigenous people, which will be described in the following. During the stay Joseph Banks refers to several encounter with indigenous people of New Zealand.
He describes the behaviour and findings in a large extend. As an example he describes the encounter of members of HMS Endeavour’s crew and a double canoe. They have been told that the indigenous people lost a female child that according to their narrative “had been stole and eat by some of their neighbours”. Another group of crewmembers reported that they have met people who told them that they ate a child the day before. As a result of these stories Banks describes the conclusions of the crew as thefts of this kind are common for those Indians.
Afterwards he tries to analyse and evaluate these stories. He assumes that the crewmembers met the same people and interpreted the stories differently which have been told by the indigenous people. Nevertheless he does not exclude this either, since families that came of to the ship “often brought women and young children in arms as if they were afraid to leave them behind. ” Banks’ interest in the indigenous people of New Zealand can also be illustrated by his encounter of an Indian family. He describes them as being affable, obliging and unsuspicious and observed any order or subordination.
By making known his regret of not being able to stay with the family for one night his interest in people and their behaviour can be seen. On the following days Banks describes how the exploration of the Cook Straits took place. The officers’ spread their thought that the land they have been round might be an isthmus that is between their current position (Cook Strait) and the Cape Turnagain, which they have last seen 17 October 1969. To confirm this Cook ordered the crew to sail northward until the cape could be seen.
Whilst sailing in this direction HMS Endeavour came across indigenous people which in Banks’ journal entries are described as richer and more cleanly than any people they have seen since their stay at the Bay of Islands 3 November 1769. This makes him believe that they might have met subordinates of the Dominions of Teratu. As it turned out they were not this kind of people and thus they had to go on sailing northward looking for a well-known part of New Zealand. On 9 February 1770 an important discovery had been made.
Cape Turnagain came back into sight, which proved that the land, they had been visiting, is an island. Besides Banks’ depictions of the exploration of New Zealand and the description of the indigenous people in huge detail he described Albatrosses and other animals to a small extend. His task as botanist plays a minor part during these days. By shooting Albatrosses as often as possible he tries to nourish the crew with fresh meat. The last four days of the journal at hand take place at the east coast of the future southern island of New Zealand. On 16 February 1770 Banks reports the sighting of a new island.
This island will be later called “Banks’s Island” according to the chart of New Zealand based on Cook’s mapping. The fact that this is not an island but rather part of the southern island of New Zealand will be unknown for the rest of the journey. This error happened because Captain John Gore believed that he saw land in south eastward direction. To pursue this Cook decided to follow this direction and validate Gore’s assumption so “that nobody should say he had left land behind unsought”. On 18 February 1770 Banks states that no land could be found and the voyage will continue in westward direction.
In the journals’ last entry Banks describes the discovery of land that might be either part of the New Zealand or the beginning of the southern island, which they have long yearned for. What can be seen in this part of the journal is the personal conflict of Banks. Intelligence obtained by the Indians during their last anchoring stop tells them that this might only be an island, nevertheless Banks does not want to let go of the “strong hopes that we had at last completed our wishes and that this was absolutely a part of the Southern continent”.
The journal at hand includes without limitation information on the discovery of the Cook Strait and exploration of New Zealand. The subsequent days of the journey will clarify if the land they have spotted is either part of the southern continent or an island on its own. Nevertheless an outcome of this journey so far is a detailed map of northern New Zealand and the discovery of the isthmus between the northern island and the southern part. The nature of this journal is a very objective description of the happenings during the voyage.