These secret instructions were issued to Cook by the British Admiralty in 1768. After observing the transit of Venus from Tahiti, he was to investigate if there was land south of Tahiti. He was ordered to then sail towards Abel Tasman’s New Zealand to establish how far it extended to the east. The instructions make it plain that the British interest in the South Pacific was a mixture of scientific curiosity and the desire for trade and riches.
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