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Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.



Cook's Successors

The remaining voyages are all peripheral to Cook's achievement. Jean Francois Marie de Surville, sailing from India in 1769, sighted the North Island coast just south of Hokianga in December, while Cook was off the opposite coast, and had a clear sight of the extreme northerly coast. At Doubtless Bay he treated the Maoris with disproportionate severity and, with a captive chief, left for Peru. The chief died at sea, and de Surville was drowned on his arrival.

A second Frenchman, Marion du Fresne, accomplished little actual discovery on his tragic voyage of 1772, apart from a chart of the Bay of Islands, but his murder with a dozen of his men, and the French retaliation (about 200 Maoris were killed), has the dubious distinction of being the most violent episode in the early history of racial contact in New Zealand. Nearly 20 years later, another Englishman, George Vancouver (a midshipman on the Resolution in 1773) spent three weeks in October 1791 in Dusky Sound, correcting Cook's chart. There were two ships in this voyage, which was primarily concerned with the exploration of the American coast: Vancouver's Discovery and the Chatham commanded by William Broughton. Broughton, in November, discovered and took possession of the Chatham Islands.

By the 1790s the men of science were being overtaken by the men of commerce. The first sealing gang set up at Dusky Sound in 1792, and in the next two decades the sealers explored the southern coast, the Auckland, Campbell, and Macquarie Islands, and Foveaux Strait. This last important deliberate discovery was the work of an American, Owen F. Smith. Before the final voyage of discovery, that of Dumont d'Urville in 1826, many significant minor discoveries had been made, and the exploration of the interior had commenced. The Pegasus in 1809 discovered the true nature of Banks Peninsula, while in 1813 Robert Williams explored Bluff Harbour and the adjacent interior. In 1826 the ships of the first New Zealand Company under the command of James Herd, proved better at discovery than colonisation by charting Otago Harbour and Port Nicholson, and visiting Port Underwood.

Meanwhile, in the far north, the missionaries were opening up both coast and interior. Samuel Marsden turned explorer with uncommon zest. His first visit, 1814–15, took him to the head of Hokianga Harbour, and to the Firth of Thames, and the harbours between it and the Bay of Islands. In 1820, in part on the ships Dromedary and Coromandel and in part overland, Marsden went up the Thames River and on to Tauranga; in the course of his return to the Bay of Islands he visited the Manukau, Waitemata, and Kaipara areas before travelling overland to the Bay. His 600-mile journey between February and October 1820 made known the essential features of the northern peninsula.

After sailing from France, d'Urville left Sydney on the Astrolabe in December 1826 with the explicit intention of completing Cook's chart of the coast. He sighted the West Coast early in January 1827, sailed north round Cape Farewell, and became the first to explore the area Cook had called Blind Bay. He named Separation Point, separating Golden Bay from Tasman Bay, and went ashore on the west side of the latter. Here, from a hill, he suspected an opening into Admiralty Bay, and with magnificent seamanship took his ship through the narrow and dangerous French Pass between D'Urville Island and the mainland. He then went south to Cape Campbell, and north to Palliser Bay and the entrance to Port Nicholson, and then along the east coast of the North Island to Tolaga Bay, East Cape, and Bay of Plenty where he narrowly avoided shipwreck on a reef. Wind and current took him as far north as Whangarei Harbour in late February; he turned south to explore the Hauraki Gulf and Waitemata Harbour, and send an expedition overland to the Manukau, though he was not the first European there. He went further south, turned north along the Coromandel coast, sailed to North Cape, and returned to the Bay of Islands where he spent a week before leaving New Zealand in March. His discoveries were not inconsiderable, and he was a skilled observer, especially of the Maoris, and a careful collector of Maori names. He was also a character of the highest romantic elevation, one whom New Zealand has become glad to remember among her discoverers.