Historic Poverty Bay and the East Coast, N.I., N.Z.
Follows Search for Mythical Continent—Visit to Tahiti a “Blind” — Text of “Additional Secret Orders”—Significant Change in Course—Visit Resented by the Natives.
As the Endeavour slowly approached the east coast of the North Island early in October, 1769, she ran into fine, warm weather, which must have proved a very pleasant change from the cold, boisterous conditions experienced during the previous few weeks whilst search was being made for the mythical “Great South Land.”
Unlike some of the other voyagers, Banks does not stress all the shortages that now had to be endured. Only a fortnight before the high country at the back of Poverty Bay came into view, he recorded in his journal that the beef and pork were still excellent; that the pease, flour and oatmeal were, in general, very good; that the portable soup was in a like condition (it having been aired now and again); that the sourkrout was as good as ever; and that the malt liquors had answered extremely well, both small beer and porter being on tap and “as good as ever I drank, especially the latter.”
Banks, however, had a sad tale to tell concerning the bread [biscuit], which had got into a verminous condition:
“I have,” he says, “seen hundreds, nay thousands [of weevils] shaken out of a single biscuit. Sometimes, I have had 20 at a time in my mouth. We in the cabin have an easy remedy for this by baking it in an oven not too hot, which makes them walk off. But this remedy cannot be allowed to the ship's people, who must find the taste of these animals very disagreeable, as they every one taste as strong as mustard, or, rather, spirits of hartshorn. They are of five kinds….”
Parkinson strikes a very cheerful note less than a week before land was sighted:
“Though we have been so long out at sea in a distant part of the world,” he wrote, “we had a roasted leg of mutton and French beans for dinner, and the fare of Old England afforded us a grateful repast.”
Poverty Bay Canoe Anchor in Dominion Museum.
J. T. Salmon, Photo.
British Official Chart, 1803–56 (1817 Issue). East Cape shown as a Portuguese discovery in 1550.
By courtesy of British Admiralty.
Dr. Samuel Johnson was greatly interested in the story of the goat's travels and, on 27 February, 1772, he wrote to Banks (Boswell's Johnson, by Napier, Vol. 1, p. 533) enclosing a verse in Latin, a translation of which runs:
“In fame scarce second to the nurse of Jove,
This goat, which twice the world had travelled round,
Deserving both her master's care and love,
Ease and perpetual pasture now has found.”
With Tasman's chart before him, Cook knew that, very soon, he would fall in with the eastern coast of New Zealand. Banks and some others were hopeful that the land ahead would prove to be the supposed “Southern Continent.” Cook does not seem to have entertained the idea that New Zealand was other than an island, or group of islands. The sighting of seaweed, pieces of wood, seals, porpoises and land birds—“sure signs that land is close at hand”—enforced increased vigilance, lest the ship should meet with disaster upon an inhospitable shore. “The captain,” Parkinson says, “apprehended that we were near land, and promised one gallon of rum to the man who should first discover it by day and two gallons if he should discover it by night; also that part of the coast of the said land should be named after him.”