‘Poverty Bay’ not a promise, an expression of Cook’s frustration

EDITORIAL

It is 247 years to the day that Lieutenant James Cook and members of his crew landed two small boats at the foot of Titirangi/Kaiti Hill searching for a watering hole — the first Europeans to make landfall in Aotearoa/New Zealand.

Four young sailors left to guard one of the boats were surprised by four Maori “armed with very long lances” and as they rowed frantically away the coxwain fired several shots, killing Te Maro of Ngati Rakai (later Ngati Oneone).

At least eight more Maori were killed or wounded in skirmishes the next day — in part the result of tangata whenua efforts to deal with the strange newcomers in traditional ways, in part panic and impulse among Cook’s crew. The bloodshed sickened the Endeavour captain. There were some constructive interactions with locals but the first meetings were a dismal failure and the crew got no food or the water they needed. Intending to call the bay Endeavour, Cook changed its name to Poverty Bay “. . . as it afforded no one thing we wanted”.

The writer of today’s lead letter can call that a prediction and a promise from the perspective of later colonisation atrocities and today’s social deprivation among the descendants of the original inhabitants of this land. But to stay with that premise, a story-teller would have to work hard on apportioning malice. Cook left us with this name out of frustration at the failures of he and his crew.

Our letter writer also asks if there is a profit motive in The Herald’s support for Te Ha and the Navigations Project. To be fair, it would be nice to earn some money alongside the support we give to activities organised each October to commemorate the events of 1769. We are generally about $4000 down in uncovered costs on the feature we publish in the lead-up annually. We do it because our community needs to know this history, and in fact all our history, before we can have understanding and tackle the issues that divide us. The Herald editor cannot answer what Rongowhakaata should receive for their investments — he can, though, suggest iwi need to agree on what they want to achieve.

It is 247 years to the day that Lieutenant James Cook and members of his crew landed two small boats at the foot of Titirangi/Kaiti Hill searching for a watering hole — the first Europeans to make landfall in Aotearoa/New Zealand.

Four young sailors left to guard one of the boats were surprised by four Maori “armed with very long lances” and as they rowed frantically away the coxwain fired several shots, killing Te Maro of Ngati Rakai (later Ngati Oneone).

At least eight more Maori were killed or wounded in skirmishes the next day — in part the result of tangata whenua efforts to deal with the strange newcomers in traditional ways, in part panic and impulse among Cook’s crew. The bloodshed sickened the Endeavour captain. There were some constructive interactions with locals but the first meetings were a dismal failure and the crew got no food or the water they needed. Intending to call the bay Endeavour, Cook changed its name to Poverty Bay “. . . as it afforded no one thing we wanted”.

The writer of today’s lead letter can call that a prediction and a promise from the perspective of later colonisation atrocities and today’s social deprivation among the descendants of the original inhabitants of this land. But to stay with that premise, a story-teller would have to work hard on apportioning malice. Cook left us with this name out of frustration at the failures of he and his crew.

Our letter writer also asks if there is a profit motive in The Herald’s support for Te Ha and the Navigations Project. To be fair, it would be nice to earn some money alongside the support we give to activities organised each October to commemorate the events of 1769. We are generally about $4000 down in uncovered costs on the feature we publish in the lead-up annually. We do it because our community needs to know this history, and in fact all our history, before we can have understanding and tackle the issues that divide us. The Herald editor cannot answer what Rongowhakaata should receive for their investments — he can, though, suggest iwi need to agree on what they want to achieve.

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