Tupaia doco on Maori TV

A still from Tupaia.

ABOUT 500 people were captivated by the documentary Tupaia’s Endeavour that premiered in Gisborne last year. For those who missed it, the largely overlooked story of the Tahitian star navigator who joined Lieutenant James Cook’s expedition from Tahiti to New Zealand will screen over three episodes on Maori Television from Sunday.

Tupaia’s Endeavour is literally a voyage of discovery as artist Michel Tuffery, historian Paul Tapsell and actor Kirk Torrance meet with Gisborne and Uawa-Tolaga Bay identities, anthropologist Dame Anne Salmond, waka hourua (twin-hulled voyaging canoe) crew, Tupaia’s descendants and others as they explore the Tahitian’s role during those early encounters in New Zealand. Their excitement as they make discovery after discovery is infectious. They clearly have a sense Rolls’ documentary is not just filling a neglected gap in history, but is making history itself.

“We kept making discoveries others haven’t talked about,” Rolls said.

While filming in Uawa, Tuffery made a momentous find on a cave wall near Cook’s Cove. The cave was where Tupaia met with locals. Tuffery’s discovery will not be revealed here, it can be seen in the documentary when it screens on Maori Television, but what is remarkable is the find was overlooked for almost 250 years. That is not so different from the story of Tupaia and his decision to join Cook and his crew on their voyage from Tahiti to New Zealand, which is what inspired Fiji-born Rolls to make the documentary.

“I’ve always had an alert eye for the untold story,” Rolls said.

“New Zealand history is dominated by the European view. Cook was on the cusp of the Enlightenment in Europe but Tupaia was a man of the Enlightenment in the Pacific.”

ABOUT 500 people were captivated by the documentary Tupaia’s Endeavour that premiered in Gisborne last year. For those who missed it, the largely overlooked story of the Tahitian star navigator who joined Lieutenant James Cook’s expedition from Tahiti to New Zealand will screen over three episodes on Maori Television from Sunday.

Tupaia’s Endeavour is literally a voyage of discovery as artist Michel Tuffery, historian Paul Tapsell and actor Kirk Torrance meet with Gisborne and Uawa-Tolaga Bay identities, anthropologist Dame Anne Salmond, waka hourua (twin-hulled voyaging canoe) crew, Tupaia’s descendants and others as they explore the Tahitian’s role during those early encounters in New Zealand. Their excitement as they make discovery after discovery is infectious. They clearly have a sense Rolls’ documentary is not just filling a neglected gap in history, but is making history itself.

“We kept making discoveries others haven’t talked about,” Rolls said.

While filming in Uawa, Tuffery made a momentous find on a cave wall near Cook’s Cove. The cave was where Tupaia met with locals. Tuffery’s discovery will not be revealed here, it can be seen in the documentary when it screens on Maori Television, but what is remarkable is the find was overlooked for almost 250 years. That is not so different from the story of Tupaia and his decision to join Cook and his crew on their voyage from Tahiti to New Zealand, which is what inspired Fiji-born Rolls to make the documentary.

“I’ve always had an alert eye for the untold story,” Rolls said.

“New Zealand history is dominated by the European view. Cook was on the cusp of the Enlightenment in Europe but Tupaia was a man of the Enlightenment in the Pacific.”

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