Story: European discovery of New Zealand

An 18th-century observatory tent

An 18th-century observatory tent

James Cook was sent to the Pacific to observe the transit of Venus from Tahiti. (The passage of Venus across the face of the sun could be used to calculate distances between the sun, Venus and the earth.) It was only after Cook had made these observations, from tents like this one, that he sailed south and west to New Zealand.

Using this item

Alexander Turnbull Library
Reference: B-091-008
Ink and watercolour sketch by unidentified artist

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

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How to cite this page:

John Wilson, 'European discovery of New Zealand - James Cook', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 11 December 2023)

Story by John Wilson, published 8 Feb 2005, updated 1 May 2016