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Saturday, December 3, 2011

Plaudits for Tupaia

Best books

First, Tupaia is included in the Listener list of The 100 Top Reads of 2011.

It's in the History category.

Tupaia: the Remarkable Story of Captain Cook's Polynesian Navigator:

Tupaia was the go-between who played a major role in placating Tahitians when the first English ship reached the island, and later proved an invaluable asset as James Cook's endeavour sailed to New Zealand and Australia.  He deserved a full biography, and thanks to Druett's meticulous research he now has one that is comprehensive and highly readable.

The Listener did not include the wonderful jacket image in the spread, but never mind, the latest Te Papa newsletter features it in its link to Te Papa store:

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Margaret Mahy Treasury

And at the same time a review came in from Doryanthes, A Periodic Southern Sydney Journal of Art, Heritage, and Natural History 

Tupaia, Captain Cook's Polynesian Navigator

We tend to forget that English was probably not the first non-indigenous language to be spoken on the shores of Kurnell in April 1770.  Aboard the Endeavour was a Ra’iatean nobleman and priest named Tupaia.  He had served James Cook well as a navigator, interpreter and cultural intermediary from Tahiti to New Zealand.  Cook hoped that he might again serve him well as an interpreter at Kurnell.  Unfortunately the Tahitian-Ra’iatean branch of the great Polynesian group of languages was no use among the Dharawal-speaking Gweagal.

Tupaia has recently become the subject of a beautifully written biography by New Zealander Joan Druett.  It is the product of a great deal of patient historical research, using sources dating back to the visit of Samuel Wallis to Tahiti in June 1767.  It is also enriched by a wealth of contextual post-contact ethnographic scholarship. I can thoroughly recommend it.  Furthermore, it is a must for our local studies collection. 

Edward Dyker (author of Natures' Argonaut, the definitive biography of Solander)

And, the New Zealand  historian's newsletter 'Phanzine' has listed favourite titles for Christmas.  Margaret Pointer recommends Tupaia.  She says 'Wellington writer Joan Druett provides a different insight into Cook's first great voyage by focusing on Tupaia and the relationship between the European explorers and the Polynesians they took on board.'


Shayne Parkinson said...

Congratulations, Joan! It's always great to see plaudits for Tupaia.

Joan Druett said...

Thank you, Shayne! It is one of the advantages of having a book in traditional print, I guess.