This weekend, I was able to take my class to the Maritime Museum which is located at Hobson Wharf, near the viaduct harbour in Auckland city centre.
One of the highlights, even before stepping into the museum, was viewing the Tahitian ‘Fa’afaite’ waka that I had seen on video at last year’s 250 year Tuia commemorations of Captain Cook’s voyage to NZ.
The funny thing was for those initially celebrating Cook’s 250 years to NZ was the realization from Maori and Pasifika communities that Pasifika communities had had over a thousand years experience of trans-navigation around the Pacific and Captain Cook had only just arrived ‘yesterday’ and was said to have “discovered” NZ when in fact inhabitants and been already living in Aotearoa for hundreds of years and that he hadn’t even discovered anything (except for Europeans at that time).
In fact, to later discover that it was actually Tupaia, who was a master navigator and priest from Tahiti, who had helped Captain Cook to navigate to Aotearoa, of which Captain Cook main very little mention, if anything, in his captain’s log as he wanted to take all the glory for himself.
Another fact was that it was in the journals of others who were aboard Captain Cook’s Endeavour, who actually made mention of Tupaia, and it is through these journals that we find out that Tupaia played a pivotal role in Captain Cook’s journey and liaising with Maori but he died before even reaching England in Indonesia of an illness he picked up there.
There have been some changes in the Maritime Museum, over the years, since taking my first class there a few years ago. The sad thing for me was to see that the film area which discussed the early navigation of Pacific peoples to Aotearoa had been taken out to make room for a cafe and Tupaia’s replica map of the Pacific that had been drawn by Captain Cook was no longer exhibited.
All in all, class members discussed the interesting fact that even Maori sailing waka are missing from the exhibitions with so much importance placed on recent types of sailing craft. Even some indigenous types of canoes are displayed but none of the indigenous peoples of NZ.
Now that’s something that would be interesting for the Maritime Museum managers to answer to because with so much missing from the Maritime Museum, it only tells a small part of the vast history of oceanic navigation of the Pacific by Pacific forefathers…