Art LI.—On the Relics of Captain Cook's Last Voyage.
[Read before the Hawke's Bay Philosophical Institute, 14th Oct., 1888.]
About eighteen months back an account was given in the Illustrated London News or Graphic of the discovery of a walled-in cupboard, containing a number of curiosities of savage life, and said to be labelled as from New Zealand in the handwriting of Sir Joseph Banks. These were afterwards purchased for an Australian museum—I think, that of South Australia. The bulk of these were recurved fighting-clubs from the Pacific Islands, and not from New Zealand. But, if I remember aright, there were a few stone meres in the collection; and what specially took my attention was an oval wooden bowl, described as used to catch human blood at the cannibal feasts.
About the year 1855 I found the exact counterpart of this same bowl on the Canterbury Plains, about two miles from what is now the Township of Oxford. It was face downward in the short tussock-grass, and, as I viewed it, end-on, it had just the appearance of a cannon-ball half imbedded in the soil. I was extremely astonished, and, on
taking it up, found it to be hollow, and that it had a rat's nest of dry grass underneath. We had no museums in those days, and, as I was living in a tent at the time, and leading the rough life of a pioneer, the bowl was not properly taken care of. It was of oval shape, about 18in. long, by 12in. wide and 8in. deep, roundish at the base, and had at the top edge of one end a slight hollow scooped out, and an extension, or lip, projecting therefrom ½in. beyond its surroundings, evidently as a convenience to pour from. The wood of the bowl was about 1½in. thick, and in a fair state of preservation. Here we have good evidence that the bowl in the Cook collection was of New Zealand origin. But I think it should be notified to those who purchased the aforesaid collection that the bulk of the curios were not from New Zealand.
I append an extract from an English paper, which shows the burial-place of one of Captain Cook's crew, who sailed with him during his last voyage. The extract is as follows:—
“One of the oldest inhabitants kindly guided me through the parish churchyard recently, and pointed out several items, some of which I jotted down for reference in this column, in the hope that they might prove interesting to my readers…. Another monument was sacred to the memory of Richard Rollett, formerly master sailmaker of H.M.S. The Resolution, Captain Jas. Cook, in her second voyage round the world; died the 20th day of January, 1814, aged seventy-four years. The ‘Resolution’ arrived at Sheerness, with her sister-ship the ‘Discovery,’ on the 14th October, 1780, Captain Cook having been killed by the savages at Owyhee in the February of the previous year. My loquacious and erudite guide informed me that Mr. John Nettleship, who formerly kept the Friendship Inn, married one of Mr. Rollett's daughters.”