The Endeavour Journal of Joseph Banks 1768–1771 [Volume One]
1. The new year began with more moderate weather than the old one ended with, but wind as foul as ever. We venturd to go a little nearer the land which appeard on this side the cape much as it had done on the other, almost intirely occupied by vast sands: our Surveyors suppose the Cape shapd like a shoulder of mutton with the Knuckle placd inwards, where they say the land cannot be above 2 or 3 miles over and that here most probably in high winds the sea washes quite over the sands which in that place are low.3
3 Precisely what Banks means by this sentence, after the colon, I do not know—unless he is making some reference, when he writes ‘the Cape’ to the shape of the whole stretch of the land north of 35°. A few miles north of that parallel, on the east side of the island, on December 10, Cook had named Knuckle Point, but with no thought of Cape Maria van Diemen in mind. That Banks is making this reference seems probable from Cook's entry for 1 January 1770, 7 p.m. (p. 228).—‘At this time Mount Camel bore N 83° E and the northerrmost land or Cape Maria van Diemen NBW…. Note, Mount Camel doth not appear to lay little more than a Mile from the sea on this side and about the same distance on the other, so that the land here cannot be above 2 or 3 Miles broad from sea to sea, which is what I conjecter'd when we were in Sandy bay on the other side of the coast’. Knuckle Point separated Doubtless Bay and Sandy Bay. Cook underestimated the width of the land, but the shore is very low here, and such underestimation was natural enough from nine to ten miles out at sea; he does not however anywhere suggest that the sea might wash right over the land.
2. Weather not yet setled: in the morn we stood S and soon lost sight of the land which we saw no more all day.
3. Stood in for the land with weather more moderate than it has been for some days past: it appeard high but the sides of the hills often interspersd with long tracts of sand even high up, their bottoms were every where coverd with it. Many Albatrosses were about the ship today swimming upon the water in small companies 10 or 20 together.
4. Stood rather nearer the land than yesterday but not near enough to see whether or not it was inhabited: indeed we were obligd to hawl off rather in a hurry for the wind freshning a little we found ourselves in a bay which it was a moot point whether or not we could get out of: indeed I beleive most people thought that we should not till a lucky change in the wind at once allowd us to weather every thing, to our no small Joy who had so lately been in so severe and long a Gale of wind blowing right upon the shore which we had now just weatherd.1
5. Blew fresh and we stood out all day maybe rather too sensible of the danger we had escapd yesterday.
1 This seems to be a heightened account of Cook's approach to the entrance of Kaipara Harbour, which had the appearance of a bay or inlet. ‘In order to see more of this place we kept on our Course until 11 oClock when we were not above 3 Leagues from it and then found that it was neither a Bay nor inlet but low land bounded on each side by higher lands which caused the deception.’ Cook called it False Bay. There was a good harbour across the bar. Nobody else registers the alarm expressed by Banks; but Cook, remarking on this part of the coast in general, regards it as very dangerous: ‘this I am so fully sencible of that was we once clear of it I am determined not to corne so near again if I can possible avoide it unless we have a very favourable wind indeed’,—p. 230.
2 The Grey-backed Storm Petrel, Garrodia nereis. See 2 October 1769, p. 396 above.
3 Probably Pterodroma longirostris (Stejneger) or P. cookii (G. R. Gray). See 15 February and 30 August 1769 for a note on other gadfly petrels taken on this voyage.
4 This Wandering Albatross was classed by Solander with one caught on 2 October 1769, q.v., and another taken 11 April 1770.
7. Calm again: Myself shooting killd Procellaria longipes and melanopus1 and saw a turtle Just before sunset who being awake divd immediately. What wind there was was fair tho scarce a breath of it, yet even that made us hope for better times.
8. Our fair wind continued but still so little of it that was there any plenty of Birds or hopes of new ones I could outrow the ship in much. More Land just in sight.2
9. Much as yesterday, Land in sight but so faintly seen that a Landsman would scarce distinguish it from Clouds.
10. In the morn a breeze of fair wind put us all into high spirits. The countrey we passd by appeard fertile, more so I think than any part of this countrey I have seen, rising in gentle slopes not over wooded but what trees there were well grown. Few signs of inhabitants were seen, a fire and a very few houses.
About noon we passd between the main and a small Island or rock3 which seemd almost totaly coverd with birds probably Gannets; towards evening a very high hill was in sight but very distant.
11. Calm this morn, some fish were caught: in the even foul wind. Our high hill has been sometimes seen and sometimes wrappd up in clouds, some of our people think it is as high as the Pike of Teneriffe; tho I cannot be of half that opinion yet it is certainly in appearance very like it.
1 Mathews (1912, p. 145) considered that Solander's description of this species perhaps referred both to the Kermadec Petrel, Pterodroma neglecta Schlegel, and to the Greatwinged Petrel, P. macroptera Smith, but the revision of the former species by Murphy and Pennoyer suggests that birds in the dark phase described by them may be identical with those discussed by Solander. Gould states that he examined a drawing in Banks's collection with melanopus written on it in Solander's hand (Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. 13, p. 363, 1844) but unfortunately no trace can be found of it now. Procellaria melanopus Gm., taken from Latham's account, was a different bird and only 13 inches long. Solander's birds (p. 85) were 15 inches long, with a wing span of 39 inches and a weight of 14 oz.
2 This seems to have been the high land about Hokianga harbour.
3 Called Gannet Island.
13. This morn soon after day break we had a momentary view of our great hill the top of which was thick coverd with snow, tho this month answers to July in England. How high it may be I do not take upon me to judge, but it is certainly the noblest hill I have ever seen and it appears to the utmost advantage rising from the sea without another hill in its neighbourhood one 4th part of its hight. At sun set the top appeard again for a few minutes but the whole day it was coverd with clouds.
14. In a large bay calld in the Draughts Murderers bay.3 We stood across it all day: at night had the appearance of a harbour just ahead of us on the shore of which the natives made a fire: resolvd to stand off and on all night and in the morn go in.4
1 Cook called it Mount Egmont, after the 2nd earl of that name, who had been First Lord of the Admiralty, 1763–6. It is 8260 feet in height, and dominates the whole provincial district of Taranaki, as well as being a notable landmark from the sea.
2 Hooker's identification of these ‘white lumps’ as Raoulia mammillaris, the ‘Vegetable Sheep’ known only from the South Island, is certainly an error. Lucy B. Moore writes, ‘there is a great deal of moss above the forest on the western side of Mt. Egmont, and the conspicuous large white cushions are formed by one which, in the latest treatment of New Zealand mosses (G. O. K. Sainsbury, Handbook of the New Zealand Mosses, 1955) is referred to as Rhacomitrium lanuginosum (Hedw.) Brid. var. pruinosum H.f. and W. I think it would be generally agreed that the whitish lumps seen by Banks would be most likely to be this plant.’ But they may have been stones or boulders.
3 Banks's running-head here is more accurate—‘Mouth of Cooks Streights’. The ‘Draughts’ were those maps founded on Tasman's rough chart, with his name Murderers’ Bay (the present Golden Bay) given a much wider significance.
4 It is impossible to say what harbour this was: there are several eligible openings, with good harbours behind them.
1 Cook: ‘A 2 oClock we Anchor'd in a very snug Cove which is on the NW side of the Bay faceing the S West end of the Island’—Ship Cove.
2 This was the ‘View of Murderers Bay’ referred to on p. 400, n. 2 above.
3 Parkinson lists the fish etc. taken here in his Journal, p. 114: (1) Cuttle-fish, probably a squid since true cuttle-fish do not occur in New Zealand seas. (2) Large breams, perhaps Snapper, Pagrosomus auratus (Forster). See Parkinson II, pl. 72, and Solander's description of Sciaena lata (Pisc. Aust. pp. 25–6). Small grey breams, probably Tarakihi. See 24 November 1769. (3) Barracoutas, Thyrsites atun (Euphrasen). (4) Flying Gurnards, Chelidonichthys kumu (Lesson and Garnet). This was the Trigla papilionacea of Parkinson II, pl. 104, and of Solander's MS description in Pisc. Aust., p. 24 where he gives Tolaga, Opuragi etc. as localities. (5) Colefish, Parapercis colias (Bloch and Schneider). See Parkinson II, pl. 54, Labrus macrocephalus, an MS name used by Solander (Pisc. Aust., p. 27) for this species, the famous Blue Cod; he adds ‘Colefish nostratibus’. (6) Horse-mackerel, Trachurus novae-zelandicae Richardson; probably the Scomber clupevides of Solander (Pisc. Aust., p. 37) from Motuaro. (7) Dogfish, probably the Smooth Hound Dogfish, Emissola antarctica. (8) Soles and dabs. There are several New Zealand species of flat fishes. (9) Mullets: probably Grey Mullet, Mugil cephalus. This may be Solander's MS species Mugil lavaretoides (Pisc. Aust., p. 15). (10) Drums, a name usually applied to members of the Sciaenidae on account of their sound-producing capacities. (11) Scorpaenas, Helicolenus percoides (Richardson). This species was the Scorpaena percoides of Solander (Pisc. Aust., p. 3); there is an unfinished painting of it (Parkinson II, pl. 16). (12) Chimera: Elephant fish, Callorhinchus callorhynchus. Solander listed it as Chimaera callorynchus Linn. (Pisc. Aust., p. 43). Cf. II, p. 7 below.
16. At day break this morn 3 Canoes and about 100 Indians came to the ship bringing their women with them, a sign tho not a sure one of peacable inclinations. Soon after our longboat put off from the ship with Cask in her, they atempted to follow her on which a musquet loaded with small shot was fird at them which made them immediately return, tho as they were full 100 yards from the ship it is improbable that blood was drawn from any of them. They had in their canoes some fish which they offerd to sell and we to buy, so a man in a small boat was dispatchd among them to trade; he bought several bundles which they sold very fairly when one Indian seeing his opportunity snatchd at the trade which he had in his hand, but missing immediately put himself in a posture of defence flourishing his patoo-patoo as if he meant to strike. A musquet load of small shot was fird at him1 a few of which struck his knee, the rest missd him, on which they all left of to trade but paddled peaceably enough round the ship and at last came under the stern to Tupia and discoursd with him about their antiquity and Legends of their ancestors.
The women in these canoes and some of the men had a peice of Dress which we had not before seen — a bunch of black feathers made round and tied upon the top of their heads which it intirely coverd, making them look twice as large as they realy were.2 On seeing this my Judgement paid an involuntary compliment to my fair English countrey women; for led astray by this head dress which in some measure resembles their high foretops I was forward to declare it as my opinion that these were much the hansomest women we had seen upon the coast, but upon their nearer aproach I was convincd that nothing but the head dress had misled me as I saw not one who was even tolerably hansome.
1 It was Cook who fired; cf. Cook I, p. 235 and n. 3 on that page.
2 This peculiar head-dress, which Sir Peter Buck thought was ‘a form of mourning cap’ (The Coming of the Maori, p. 284), is portrayed in the drawing by Parkinson called ‘New Zealanders Fishing’, B.M. Add MS 23920.44, reproduced in Cook I, fig. 41. The mourning cap, potae-taua, was more generally worn by widows to demonstrate great grief; it was woven of rushes dyed black, and decorated with feathers. Augustus Hamilton, Maori Art (Wellington 1901), p. 297, figures a very elaborate specimen, but his pl. xxxix, fig. 6, shows a cap very much more like those in Parkinson's drawing.
3 Probably the one called Cannibal Cove. S has a note: ‘Cove. A little Harbour of which there are often many within a larger one, for any Vessells’. Cannibal Cove, like Ship Cove its neighbour, was within Queen Charlotte's Sound.
The family were employd when we came ashore in dressing their provisions, which were a dog who was at that time buried in their oven and near it were many provision baskets. Looking carelessly upon one of these we by accident observd 2 bones, pretty clean pickd, which as apeard upon examination were undoubtedly human bones. Tho we had from the first of our arrival upon the coast constantly heard the Indians acknowledge the custom of eating their enemies we had never before had a proof of it, but this amounted almost to demonstration: the bones were clearly human, upon them were evident marks of their having been dressd on the fire, the meat was not intirely pickd off from them and on the grisly ends which were gnawd were evident marks of teeth, and these were accidentaly found in a provision basket. On asking the people what bones are these? they answerd, The bones of a man. — And have you eat the flesh? — Yes. — Have you none of it left? — No. — Why did not you eat the woman who we saw today in the water? — She was our relation. — Who then is it that you do eat? — Those who are killd in war. — And who was the man whose bones these are? — 5 days ago a boat of our enemies came into this bay and of them we killd 7, of whoom the owner of these bones was one. — The horrour that apeard in the countenances of the seamen on hearing this discourse which was immediately translated for the good of the company is better conceivd than describd.1 For ourselves and myself in particular we were before too well convincd of the existence of such a custom to be surprizd, tho we were pleasd at having so strong a proof of a custom which human nature holds in too great abhorrence to give easy credit to.
1 This horror was reflected in their logs and journals, where, apart from what they write about this incident, Queen Charlotte Sound is generally referred to as Cannibal Bay.
A small canoe came this morn from the Indian town: as soon as they came along side Tupia began to enquire into the truth of what we had heard yesterday and was told over again the same story. But where are the sculls, sayd Tupia, do you eat them? Bring them and we shall then be convinced that these are men whose bones we have seen.— We do not eat the heads, answerd the old man who had first come on board the ship, but we do the brains and tomorrow I will bring one and shew you. — Much of this kind of conversation passd after which the old man went home.
1 This was the bird called by the Maori Korimako or Makomako and by the European the Bell-bird (Anthornis melanura). The reason for the European name has never been better put than by Banks. But alas! that chorus of melodious wild music is no longer heard where he heard it.
2 The shell-fish called Paua, Haliotis sp., related to the Abalone of the United States and the Ormer of the Channel Islands.
In the course of this days excursion we shot many shaggs from their nests in the trees and on the rocks. These birds we roast or stew and think not bad provisions, so between shaggs and fish this is the place of the greatest plenty of any we have seen.
19. Indians came this morn from another part of the bay where they said was a town which we had not seen: they brought plenty of fish which they sold for nails of which they hade by this time learnt the value.
20. Our old man came this morn according to his promise, with the heads of 4 people which were preservd with the flesh and hair on and kept I suppose as trophies, as posibly scalps were by the North Americans before the Europæans came among them; the brains were however taken out as we had been told, maybe they are a delicacy here. The flesh and skin upon these heads were soft but they were somehow preservd so as not to stink at all.1
We made another excursion today. The bay every where where we have yet been is very hilly, we have hardly seen a flat large enough for a potatoe garden. Our freinds here do not seem to feel the want of such places as we have not yet seen the least apearance of cultivation, I suppose they live intirely upon fish dogs and Enemies.
21. Dr Solander and myself were fishing today with hook and line and caught an immence number offish every where upon the rocks in 4 or 5 fathom water. We have indeed immence plenty, the Seine is hawld every night and seldom fails to furnish us with as much fish as we can possibly destroy.
1 See II, p. 31, n. 1 below.
23. Disagreable day squally with rain so we all staid at home. Mr Monkhouse told me today that the day before yesterday he was ashore in a place where were many Indian houses deserted: here he saw several things tied up to the branches of trees, particularly hair of a man which he brought away with him, enough to have made a sizeable wig. This indued him to think the place he had seen was a place consecrated to religious purposes.2 Possibly it was as they certainly have such places among them tho I have not yet been lucky enough to meet with them.
24. Went today to the Heppah or Town to see our freinds the Indians, who receivd us with much confidence and civility and shewd us every part of their habitations which were neat enough. The town was situated upon a small Island or rock divided from the main by a breach in a rock so small that a man might almost Jump over it; the sides were every where so steep as to render fortifications even in their way almost totaly useless, accordingly there was nothing but a slight Palisade and one small fighting stage at one end where the rock was most accessible. The people brought us several Bones of men the flesh of which they had eat, which are now become a kind of article of trade among our people who constantly ask for and purchase them for whatever trifles they have. In one part we observd a kind of wooden Cross ornamented with feathers made exactly in the form of a Crucifix cross. This engagd our attention and we were told that it was a monument for a dead man, maybe a Cenotaph as the body was not there: thus much they told us but would not let us know where it was.3
1 Cook and a seaman climbed the hill called Kaitapeha on the south-east side of the sound. His high spirits were justified, for he had solved a problem left unsolved by Tasman; his own journal remarks that ‘I was abundantly recompenced for the trouble I had in assending the hill’.
2 It seems probable that Monkhouse had been in some tapu place, and was perhaps lucky to have got away with his booty unobserved by the Maori. Hair was very tapu, and cut hair, which might be used in sorcery, was usually burnt or concealed. Sometimes the hair of the whole head was cut as a sign of mourning, and it may have been this that accounted for Monkhouse's discovery.
3 This is the only record we have of such a memorial, though there is no reason for doubting the truth of the story Banks picked up. The Maori was accustomed to raise ‘cenotaphs’ or memorials of one sort or another, sometimes exactly like the Tahitian ti'i noted by Banks (in Maori, tiki). A plain or carved post, a stone, half a canoe set on end, were common forms of such observance; the cross with its feathers may have been some individual invention. The refusal to reveal the whereabouts of the body was characteristic and proper.
25. Dr Solander and myself (who have now nearly exhausted all the Plants in our neighbourhood) went today to search for Mosses1 and small things, in which we had great success gathering several very remarkable ones. In the evening we went out in the Pinnace and fell in with a large family of Indians, who have now begun to disperse themselves as I beleive is their custom into the different creeks and coves where fish is most plenty, a few only remaining in the Heppah or town to which they all fly in times of danger. These people came a good way to meet us at a place where we were shooting shags and invited us to the place where the rest of them were, 20 or 30 in number, men, women, children, Dogs &c. We went and were receivd with all possible demonstrations of freindship, if the numberless huggs and kisses we got from both sexes old and young in return for our ribbands and beads may be accounted such: they also sold and gave us a good many fish with which we went home well pleasd with our new acquaintance.
1 The MS ‘Catalogue of the plants of Cook's First Voyage in the order in which they were loosely placed in the drying books in which they were brought home’ lists 33 bryophytes for Tierra del Fuego but none for New Zealand.
2 This was out towards Cape Koamaru, the eastern point of the entrance to the sound, but the hill cannot be certainly identified. The hills there rise to over 1400 feet.
27. Indians came aboard in the morn and traded a little, afterwards the Dr and myself went ashore but could find no plants at all. We have I beleive got all that are in our neighbourhood, tho the immense thickness of the woods which are almost renderd impassable by climbing plants intangling every way has not a little retarded us.
28. This morn at day break it Raind very hard but not enough to disturb the concert of our little musical [neighbours]2 which we every morning attend to with the greatest pleasure, they sung their time till the sun disturbd them as usual; the rain however continued the whole day.
29. This morn Our Old Man (Topaa by name, he that came first on board the ship) came with 3 more Indians in a canoe and unfolded the story of the 19th, saying that 2 Indians were struck with the balls one of whoom was dead, this causd a good deal of conversation in the ship and totaly unfolded the whole affair which had till now been kept a secret from most people. After breakfast the Captn and Dr Solander went out in the Pinnace, myself went ashore to air plants &c. &c. In the even when we all returnd Tupia who had been with some of our people and seen the Indians Told us that what we heard in the morn was absolutely false, that so far from dead nobody was even hurt by the shot. Our Freind Topāa is he says given too much to Lying.
1 Evidently a rock lying off either Blumine or Pickersgill island.
2 Omitted in MS, supplied from P, where it has been inserted in a blank left lor the purpose. S band, added interlineally.
30. Bad weather today rainy: myself out gathering Shells in which I had some success.1
31. Day but indifferent so of course but little could be done. Dr Solander and myself fishd a little in the Evening and had good sport.2
1 There are only eight species of New Zealand shells in the Banksian collection reported on by Wilkins, A Catalogue and Historical Account of the Banks Shell Collection, 1955.
2 The journal here is quite closely confined to Banks's own observations. It was on the morning of this day that Cook with Surgeon Monkhouse and Tupaia crossed over to the island Motuara, set up a post with an inscription and the Union flag on it, and formally took possession of ‘Queen Charlotte's Sound … and the adjacent lands in the name and for the use of his Majesty’—not forgetting to drink Her Majesty's health in a bottle of wine. He also picked up some geographical information and place-names.