Say what you like, Captain Cook was a hero, not a barbarian


Say what you like, Captain Cook was a hero, not a barbarian

The bloodshed notwithstanding, there were far crueller men who could have arrived in New Zealand's Poverty Bay in 1769

Harry Hodges

Captain James Cook is credited with having done more than any other explorer to fill the blanks on the world map. In the age of sail, this was a hard business, entailing years at sea, the ever-present danger of disease and the need to refit ships and restock provisions at little-known islands, often populated by hostile people.

Such voyages were never going to be hands-across-the-ocean journeys of peace and love – 250 years later, the consequences are still controversial.

A trip around New Zealand by a replica of Cook’s ship HMS Endeavour, to mark the anniversary of his arrival, has been forced to alter its plans after Maori leaders objected to it docking in the village of Mangonui. Anahera Herbert-Graves, head of the Ngati Kahu tribe, called Cook a “barbarian” and said: “Wherever he went, like most people of the time of imperial expansion, there were murders, there were abductions, there were rapes and just a lot of bad outcomes for the indigenous people.”..

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