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Saturday, July 9, 2011

Waiheke Weekender review

David Waters discusses Tupaia.

After remarking on the discovery that Tupaia was the caricaturist who created an amusing cartoon of Joseph Banks in a battle of wills with a Maori during a trade exchange of a lobster for a piece of cloth, David Waters goes on to say that Tupaia, the skilled linguist and navigator who contributed so much to the success of the voyage of the Endeavour, has been largely ignored by history.

“The imbalance is at last corrected in the recently published book Tupaia, the Remarkable Story of Captain Cook’s Polynesian Navigator by New Zealand author Joan Druett.

“After years of exhaustive research that included travelling to Tahiti, Australia, London and Connecticut, Druett -- already established as an accurate and understanding author regarding European ships and navigation in the sailing ship era – has come up with an intriguing account of Tupaia’s life and contribution to the voyage.

Her research has revealed an incredible amount of information buried in libraries and archives around the world. Consequently she has been able to chronicle Tupaia’s life from birth until his untimely death seven months before the Endeavour arrived back in England...

“This is a very interesting book with many relevant contemporary artworks, maps and plans, which provide a real flavour of the Pacific into which the early European navigators ventured. It offers plausible and well corroborated ideas on how both peoples thought and viewed each other, analysing the numerous cultural and social blunders on both sides in the light of what we now know about Polynesian culture.

“And as an account of European exploration of our coasts it is fascinating.”

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