Art. IV.—Following the Tracks of Captain Cook.
[Read before the Hawke's Bay Philosophical Institute, 1st December 1902.]
Being greatly interested in the voyages of Captain Cook to New Zealand, and having visited some of the places on our shores touched at by him, I propose to tell you my impressions of these places, and to show on the screen photographs which I have taken. The localities which I have made it my pleasure to visit have been some of the actual landing-places of the great navigator, and my object in so doing was to see for myself how these scenes compare now with the descriptions given of them by Cook and his scientific companions.
You are no doubt well aware that Cook made three voyages from England to the Pacific Ocean. During these three voyages he visited New Zealand no less than five times, and landed at nine different places. It was on his first voyage, however, ranking as lieutenant in command of
the “Endeavour,” that he paid most attention to New Zealand. He circumnavigated both Islands, and the chart of New Zealand which he then prepared was not added to by the Admiralty for nearly eighty years.
On this first voyage Lieutenant Cook landed at eight different places, and in the following order: Poverty Bay, Anaura Bay (called by him “Tegadoo”), Tolaga Bay, Mercury Bay, Thames Estuary, the Bay of Islands, Queen Charlotte Sound, and finally, before leaving, took his sea stock of water from the east side of D'Urville Island, at the entrance to Admiralty Bay. On the second voyage Captain Cook, in command of the “Resolution,” was accompanied by the “Adventure,” Captain Furneaux, but on the voyage out the two ships were separated by bad weather near the ice-pack, south of the Cape of Good Hope, where they were exploring. Cook, in the “Resolution,” on coming up from the frozen south, made for the south part of New Zealand, and put into Dusky Bay, on the west coast of the South Island, which makes the ninth place visited. After recruiting there he proceeded to the rendezvous in Queen Charlotte Sound, and found the “Adventure” at anchor in Ship Cove, where she had been for six weeks. During the prosecution of his researches in the South Pacific Cook twice again visited Ship Cove, thus making three visits on this the second voyage. On his third and last voyage Cook, still in command of the “Resolution,” with the “Discovery” as consort, visited the familiar Ship Cove once only.
We will now return to the first voyage. After discovering the east coast of New Zealand, Cook anchored in Poverty Bay on Sunday, the 8th October, 1769, and nowadays the intercolonial steamers, when anchored there, pretty nearly occupy his old berth. He landed the same afternoon on the east side of the Turanganui River. The ship's log says, “We landed abreast of the ship, and on the east side of the river.” A low reef of rocks runs out here and renders landing easier. Afterwards the “Endeavour's” boats entered the river; but, as Cook says in his Journal, this was not always practicable, owing to the breakers on the bar. The appearance of the low land on the east side of the river has, of course, much altered, as the Gisborne breakwater has destroyed the old features, but what I suppose was the place of landing, some 200 yards to the eastward of the breakwater, under shelter of the reef, remains much the same as in October, 1769. The Ven. Archdeacon Williams (the present Bishop of Waiapu) has recorded a most interesting paper on the landing of Cook at this spot and what happened there, and it is published in vol. xxi. of the “Transactions of the New Zealand Institute.” His early knowledge of Poverty Bay enables him
to describe the appearance of the place before the breakwater and freezing-works were built.
Cook, after remaining at anchor in Poverty Bay for three days, during which time he had several conflicts with the natives, and not obtaining supplies required, sailed south. He passed and named Table Cape and Portland Island, and entered Hawke's Bay. One night was spent at anchor in Hawke's Bay, between Portland Island and Long Point, within the Mahia Peninsula, but nobody landed. Sailing further into Hawke's Bay, he saw the large indentation of the land at Mahia, and then coasted round the bay, passing Wairoa, Mohaka, and Tangoio at a distance of two or three miles, until he arrived off a white bluff head, which is our Ahuriri Bluff. According to the bearings given, the position of the ship when off this white bluff head was about three-quarters of a mile north-west of where the Pania buoy is now moored.
On Cook's chart a channel is shown from the Inner Harbour to the sea near to Petane. The channel was less than one mile on the Napier side of the small Petane bridge, near which the manure-works are. All of you acquainted with the road to Petane will remember that here the beach is very low. The course of the old channel seen by Cook can be traced, as the north bank is well defined.
While off the white bluff head two boats from the “Endeavour” were manned ready to look for fresh water, but a number of canoes coming out to the ships, and the natives behaving in a hostile manner, Cook proceeded south. This was on the 15th October, 1769.
After passing and naming Cape Kidnappers, Bare Island, and Blackhead, he got as far south as abreast of Cape Turn-again. As the appearance of the country did not lead him to suppose he would come on any harbour he decided there to turn round and proceed north again in search of a watering-place. At length he reached Anaura Bay, which he called “Tegadoo,” and the ship's boats were sent ashore for water. A heavy swell was running, and little water was taken off. The natives at Anaura explained that water could be easily got at the next bay south, which Cook afterwards called “Tolaga.”
The romantic cove now known as “Cook's Cove” was the first spot in New Zealand where the voyagers had any luck at all. Fresh water and firewood were badly wanted. At Poverty Bay the water in the river was brackish and undrinkable, and, the natives being hostile, no wood was obtained. At Anaura, as I have just mentioned, the surf beat so high on the beach that little water was taken off, and impressions there were not of the best. At Tolaga a smooth landing was found in the
cove, and the necessities required were procurable. The natives were friendly, and the civilian scientists of the expedition were enabled to carry out their researches in this new pasture without molestation. Timing my visit to coincide with the month of the year it was visited by Cook, I was able to see the place much in the same garb as he did. I was also able to see the stream where the water was obtained in the same season of the year, and thereby to judge what difficulties there might have been.
In addition to the Journal of Cook, the writings of Sir Joseph Banks and the sketches and descriptions of Mr. Sydney Parkinson, available to us, help to make this spot the more interesting. I spent two days at Cook's Cove and on Sporing Island adjoining, and had with me manuscript copies of all the writings that I knew of relating to these places, so that I should not miss anything.
The “Endeavour” was not anchored in the cove, but in the roadstead of Tolaga Bay. The ship's log gives her position thus: “Anchored in 11 fathoms; fine sandy bottom; the N. point of the bay N. by E. and the S. point S.E., and the watering-place, which was in a small cove a little within the S. point of the bay, distant 1 mile.”
The flat land at the head of the cove is now all very much overgrown with dense clumps of manuka and toetoe, and there is not a soul living there. At the time of Cook's visit the place was occupied by a good number of natives, and was under cultivation, for Cook speaks of the “little plantations of the natives lying dispersed up and down the country.” Sir Joseph Banks, in his Journal, says, “Their plantations were now hardly finished, but so well was the ground tilled that I have seldom seen land better broken up. In them were planted sweet potatoes, cocos, and a plant of the cucumber kind, as we judged from the seed-leaves which just appeared above ground. The first of these were planted in small hills, some in rows, others in quincunx, all laid most regularly in line. The cocos were planted on flat land, and had not yet appeared above ground. The cucumbers were set in small hollows or ditches, much as in England. These plantations varied in size from 1 to 10 acres each. Each distinct patch was fenced in, generally with reeds placed close one by another so that a mouse could scarcely creep through.” The plants seen by Banks would no doubt be the kumara, taro, and the gourd or calabash.
The main creek of water runs out on to the beach at the extreme head of the cove, and is a very small stream in October. As mentioned, I examined this place on the identical anniversary of Cook's visit, and found that the water was brackish for fully 50 yards from the beach. At low water the
greater part of the cove is dry, except where the stream runs over the white sand. At the present day, at low water, ships' boats could not get further up the cove than about a chain inside the low spit on the north point. The “Endeavour's” water-casks would need, therefore, to have been rolled up from the boats to the creek some 200 or 300 yards, and when filled rolled back to the boats—that is, of course, if the place be not changed. Old residents of Tolaga and natives who were born there told me that they have not noticed any alteration in the shores of the cove since they could remember. Cook says that “the water was good and the place pretty convenient,” but he was not the kind of man to mention such small troubles as rolling barrels over some hundreds of yards of mud or boulders.
The firewood was, no doubt, cut just within the cove on the north point, as it is recorded in the log-book that there was “plenty of wood close to high-water mark.” This north point is a more convenient place for boats to load at than the south. At the present day there is not a shrub growing on the south point, whereas bush is growing to within a few steps of high-water mark on the north. Nowadays dry drift-wood could be picked up above high-water mark in great quantity, and would be more useful for firing than green stuff. Cook, however, says, “The tree which we cut for firing was something like maple, and yielded a whitish gum.” This remark leads us to conclude that green wood was cut.
A peculiarity of this part of the coast of New Zealand is the number of caves, caverns, and water-worn archways that exist, and these striking features were duly noted by our navigators. Most noticeable is the Isle of Arches, a long high rock washed through in a number of places with lofty and fanciful perforations. Standing seaward of this is a solitary rock, aptly named by Cook, the “Cornstack.” Referring to the log again we read: “At the entrance into the bay are two high rocks: one is high and round like a corn-stack, but the other is long, with holes through it like the arches of a bridge. Within these rocks is the cove where we cut wood and filled our water.”
What is locally known as the “Hole in the Wall” is without doubt the most interesting sight in Cook's Cove. It is an archway leading from a valley in the cove through a hill to the sea-beach beyond. Sir Joseph Banks and other scientists from the “Endeavour,” during their explorations, were very surprised on finding this wonderful freak of nature-Banks, in his Journal, says, “We saw also an extraordinary natural curiosity. In pursuing a valley bounded on each side by steep hills we suddenly saw a most noble arch or cavern through the face of a rock leading directly to the sea, so that
through it we had not only a view of the bay and hills on the other side, but an opportunity of imagining a ship or any other grand object opposite to it. It certainly was the most magnificent surprise I have ever met with; so much is pure nature superior to art in these cases. I have seen such places made by art, where from an inland view you were led through an arch 6 ft. wide and 7 ft. high to a prospect of the sea, but here was an arch 25 yards in length, 9 in breadth, and at least 15 in height.” I roughly measured the archway, and found that the length and breadth as given by Banks is practically correct. I had no means of measuring the height, but think that Banks overestimates it. It is about 30 ft. high, or less. Sydney Parkinson, artist on the “Endeavour,” in his Journal, gives a picture of this arch on page 99, of which I show a copy on the screen. In Parkinson's picture the place seems all clear of scrub. At the present day the bush and undergrowth is very thick, and it was impossible to obtain a position with the camera to include all of the opening. The creek running through the arch is not as Parkinson shows, but is full of large rocks and uneven boulders. Unfortunately, Parkinson did not live to return to England, but died of fever on the voyage Home after the “Endeavour” had sailed from Batavia. His diary and sketches were published by his brother, and it is likely that the picture was only half finished.
A good deal has been written in the “Transactions of the New Zealand Institute” about a place known as “Cook's Well,” and I will now explain my views about it. There is a Maori tradition extant that Cook, or Tupaea, the Tahitian who accompanied him, cut a small hole in a rock near a spring of water in Cook's Cove, Tolaga Bay—I suppose for the purpose of making a basin to get a drink from. No record of this cutting is left by the commander or any of his people, as, of course, it would be an act of little moment to them. The Maori tradition, however, exists, and I am able to explain that the place shown by the natives for many years past, and known to Europeans as “Cook's Well,” is not the place shown to Mr. J. S. Polack by the chief of the district in 1835, Every one who visits Cook's Cove is anxious to see Cook's Well, and the place shown is a small round hole in a steep rock face over which runs a trickle of spring water. This so-called well is some 30 yards up a steep hillside facing the north-west corner of the cove. A number of names and initials have been cut in the rock hereabout. Some one, too, has cut in deeply the name “Cook,” and the figures “1778.” I baled out the water from the hole and found that a more enterprising visitor had actually cut letters at the bottom. The
hole is round, and about 6 in. in diameter at the top and narrowing to the bottom, and the depth is about 12 in. Down the hillside, some 4 or 5 yards from the well, is a small cave over which the water trickles and drops down in front. The whole place is covered in by light scrub. This well is in an unlikely and out-of-the-way place, and its position does not agree with the description of the spot shown by the natives in 1835.
The first recorded account of a European visiting Cook's Cove for the sake of its historical associations is that of J. S. Polack, in 1835, and sixty-six years after our great navigator. Polack was conducted over the pathways of Cook by Kani-o-takirau, the chief of the district, who took pleasure in showing the place and telling the traditions. I will now explain about the place shown to Polack. Near the north point of the cove, and not many yards up the side of the hill, is a large cavern, not deep, but high and long. Over this cavern from the hill above a small spring drops down immediately in front into a watercourse which is shaded in by shrubbery. This is undoubtedly the cavern shown to Polack by the native chief, and in front of it is where Polack saw the cutting in the rock, which Kani told him was made by the order of Cook. Polack, in his book, “Travels and Adventures in New Zealand,” vol. ii., page 130, tells us about this cavern and rock-cutting: “Kani requested me to accompany him next day to Opoutama, near the south entrance of the bay, where we should walk over the same ground and native paths that existed in the time of Cook, and which had been traversed by him. The following morning, at the beginning of the ebb, we went in the whaleboat, the chief, and the arch-priest (tohunga-nui), who was his brother-in-law, accompanying us.” Polack goes on to describe the cove, and the plants and trees he saw there. Then he says, “The friendly Kani preceded me, and led the way through the devious native paths, which are never to be found in a straight line, even when the road over a plain best admits of it. The chief now wound his way up the side of the hill, followed by myself and the friends who accompanied us. We were arrested in our progress halfway by a cavern, which stopped our further progress. Its arch was remarkably high, but of little depth; it was similarly argillaceous to the caves we had seen below in the bay. Kani inquired if I felt gratified, adding, ‘This, friend, is Tupia's cavern.’ I learnt that in this cave the favourite interpreter of Cook slept with the natives. ‘He was often in the habit of doing so during the heat of the day with his native friends, as is the wont of the New-Zealanders,’ said my conductor. A few yards in front of the cave is a small hole that was dug in
the granite rock by order of Cook for receiving from a small spring the fluid that unceasingly flows into it.” You will notice that Polack refers to a small hole dug in the granite rock in front of a large cavern, not above a small cave as shown nowadays.
To continue Polack's narrative: “The marks of the pick-axe are as visible at the present day as at the period it was excavated under Cook's eye. The water that overflowed this useful little memorial of our illustrious countryman was pellucid and very cold. The sun had not penetrated this sequestered spot for many years from the umbrageous kahika-toa and other trees that surround it. Around the surface of the cavern are many native delineations, executed with charcoal, of ships, canoes sailing, men and women, dogs and pigs, &c., drawn with tolerable accuracy. Above our reach, and evidently faded by time, was the representation of a ship and some boats, which were unanimously pointed out to me by all present as the productions of the faithful Tahitian follower of Cook (Tupia). This also had evidently been done by similar materials.”
The back wall and roof of this cavern is of whitish silica, and favourable for making charcoal drawings upon as described by Polack. I noticed a drawing of two whales very well done. The delineation was well out of reach, and evidently done with a long charcoal-stick. This is further evidence that the cavern shown on the screen is the cavern of Tupaea, as the cave would not offer any advantages to a charcoal artist, being not 4 ft. high and dark inside. I am of opinion that since 1835 the natives have somehow lost the locality of the place to which their tradition refers, and that the chief Kani-o-takirau, who showed the place to Polack, was more likely to be correct than the natives of more recent years.
After searching in the watercourse immediately in front of this cavern and clearing away rubbish I found a square depression over which the water ran. This cavern would give shelter from the sun on an October afternoon to a large number of people, and if my opinion were asked I would say that the natives and probably Tupaea and the liberty men from the “Endeavour” occupied it as a sort of dress circle, from which to watch the work of wooding and watering going on below, and that the hole was cut in the rock to collect water for a clean drink. The depression in the rock is some 3 yards in front of the cavern, but I should not like to say that it was artificial, although after clearing the scum from off the bottom three small triangular holes were visible, as if made by a pick.
Sporing Island, the native name of which is Pourewa, runs
along parallel with the mainland, and its north point is a bluff head just without Cook's Cove. It has an area of about 80 acres, and is unoccupied. The island is named after Mr. Herman Sporing, one of Sir Joseph Banks's retinue on board the “Endeavour.” The channel between the island and the mainland is narrow, and shallow at low water. Our voyagers visited this island, and Banks saw here the largest war-canoe he met with on his voyage to New Zealand. The dimensions of the canoe were: Length, 68 ½ ft.; breadth, 5 ft.; and depth, 3 ft. 6 in. He also saw here a large uncompleted building, with side posts carved, as he says, “in a masterly style, with spirals and distorted human faces.” There is a most extraordinary subterranean cavern here, leading from the sea on the east side of the island to near its centre, where it opens out to daylight in a large crater-like abyss some 50 ft. deep. At low tide the natives say that it is possible to walk and crawl out to the coast from the bottom of this crater. At high tide the water rushes in. Cook's people could not have seen this place, as, being so remarkable, they would surely have mentioned it if they had. Polack records that he did not visit Sporing Island, but was told about the subterranean passage by the natives.
Cook sailed from Tolaga Bay on the 29th October, 1769, having been at anchor there for six days, during which time 70 tons of water was shipped and sufficient firewood obtained. He never revisited it, but Captain Furneaux, in the “Adventure,” spent seven days there—from the 9th to the 16th November, 1773—getting wood and water. The cove can never be of use as a harbour as it is too shallow, and is exposed to the north-east and east winds.
Before concluding about Cook's Cove, Tolaga Bay, I must say that I think the Government should be prevailed upon to acquire the title to the cove and let the place remain in its natural state, as has been done at Ship Cove, Queen Charlotte Sound. I do not mean to infer that the Government should set aside all places in New Zealand visited by Cook; but this cove above all others has so many natural as well as historical attractions that I am sure the people of this colony and visitors in days to come would be pleased to see it kept in its natural state.
After leaving Tolaga the “Endeavour” called at Mercury Bay, Thames Estuary, and Bay of Islands, and, rounding the North Cape, sailed down the west coast of the North Island and anchored in Ship Cove, Queen Charlotte Sound, which is at the north end of the South Island.
At the time of my visit to Queen Charlotte Sound last Easter I was unaware of Cook's chart of this place which is to be found in Hawkesworth's edition of the Voyages, but had
with me the modern one as surveyed by Captain Stokes and Commander Drury of the “Acheron” and “Pandora” in 1849 and 1850, and in present use. Some names of places given by Cook, and appearing on the old chart which he compiled on his first voyage, have been altered. Thus, Long Point has been renamed Clarke Point, West Bay has been changed to Endeavour Inlet, and Shag Cove to Resolution Bay. The following titles also appear on the modern chart: Mount Furneaux, Edgecumbe Point, Pickersgill Island, and Fannin Bay. These are all named after Cook's officers, but whether this was done by Captain Stokes I do not know. In his second and third voyages, as far as I can investigate, Cook has left no record of having so named these places.
On arrival at Picton I hired a handy little oil-launch in preference to a sailing-boat, as I had only three days to spare. After proceeding about sixteen miles down the Sound we were on the look-out for a sheltered bay in which to pitch camp. We sighted some tents in a picturesque cove, where Mr. James Ratcliffe is settling and building a house. He very kindly offered to accommodate our party in his tents, and very comfortable he made us.
Sir Joseph Banks speaks of the “melodious wild music of the birds” in the early mornings at Queen Charlotte Sound. He says that their notes resembled small bells, but with the most tunable silver sound imaginable. It is generally supposed that the korimako, or bell-bird, is pretty well extinct. However, during the early morning at this camp I was agreeably surprised at hearing plenty of them.
In the morning we were under way betimes, steering straight across the Sound for Ship Cove. I believe that almost every English boy has read Cook's Voyages, and must have formed a picture in his mind of the haven in Queen Charlotte Sound that Cook so often, and I may say so lovingly, visited. A kind of intuition must have prompted this wonderful seaman in the first instance to find such a perfect harbour. Ship Cove, I should fancy, has almost the same appearance at the present day as when the “Endeavour” dropped anchor there on the 16th January, 1770, as the whole place is bush-clad down to the water's edge. During Cook's later visits the natives in great numbers were attracted by the presence of the ships. We read that they cleared the flat land to make room for their habitations until all the available space was taken up by them.
Several small streams percolate through the beach to the sea, but the main stream which runs into the sea at the head of the cove is a splendid rill of water. The filling of water-casks here would be an easy matter in comparison with Tolaga. It is rather hard to judge how much flat land there
really is in this cove. I explored inland for some distance, but, finding that fighting one's way through the thick under-growth was not conducive to reflections about Captain Cook, I soon returned to the beach. A few English fruit-trees and some willow-trees are growing wild, commingled with the native scrub, no doubt planted in days gone by by some whaler who had appropriated the cove for a time.
In addition to having anchors down, Cook held his ship in position by hawsers fastened to the trees on shore, and during westerly gales we read that occasionally these hawsers parted. The ocean swell does not reach this cove, and the breaking of a few ropes is easily understood when one realises how hard it sometimes blows here. Westerly winds would be off shore.
It is worthy of note that the “Tory,” the first ship of the New Zealand Company, bringing from England surveyors and pioneers, knowing of no other harbour in this part of New Zealand, made for Ship Cove, anchoring there in August, 1839. From here the “Tory” sailed into the channel named after her, and, getting a whaler as pilot, proceeded to look for a site for a settlement. Where the City of Wellington now stands was the place chosen.
Captain Cook, during his three voyages, occupied Ship Cove for exactly a hundred days. On the two occasions when Captain Furneaux, in the “Adventure,” was separated from Cook he occupied it alone altogether sixty-five days.
Cannibal Cove is the next bay to the north of Ship Cove, and is where Cook and his boat's crew realised the grim fact that the New-Zealanders were cannibals. The place is occupied by a settler now, and is under cultivation, and the native bush has been made to give place to grass.
The most historic Motuara Island lies abreast of Ship Cove, and about two miles from it. On the highest part of the island is the spot where Lieutenant Cook erected a post and took possession of New Zealand in the name and for the use of His Majesty King George III. This ceremony took place on the 31st January, 1770. A bottle of wine was drunk, and the inlet dignified with the name of Queen Charlotte Sound. A native chief who had accompanied Cook to the top of the island was very pleased to receive the empty bottle as a present. From the shape of the surface of the ground at this spot, I could see that a considerable amount of digging has taken place, but whether it is as Cook left it I cannot say. Somebody may have been digging since, looking for relics. It is hardly necessary to say that the post has rotted away long ago.
Beyond the south-west end of Motuara Island, and only separated from it by a few feet, stands an isolated rocky
ridge, and this was where Cook found a strongly fortified pa on his visit in the “Endeavour.” On the second voyage it was found that the natives had abandoned it. Captain Furneaux, of the “Adventure,” who arrived here on that voyage six weeks before Cook in the “Resolution,” used it upon which to set up his astronomical observatory. We read that the people from the “Adventure” stationed here were much troubled by fleas from the deserted habitations of the natives. Rats were also here in immense numbers, and the sailors sought to minimise the nuisance by putting large jars in the ground, into which the rats fell during the night. I found the top of this ridge entirely overgrown with thick scrub and very uneven, and during a short exploration was unable to notice any signs of ancient fortifications. Night coming on, we boarded the launch and made the best of our way to camp.
I had planned that my third day in the Sound should be spent searching for Grass Cove, the scene of the massacre of a boat's crew belonging to the “Adventure,” as from what I had read in the Transactions there seemed a doubt as to where it was.
At a period in Cook's second voyage the “Adventure,” Captain Furneaux, had become separated from the “Resolution,” and was at anchor in Ship Cove alone. On the 17th December, 1773, Captain Furneaux sent two officers—Mr. Rowe and Mr. Woodhouse—and eight of the crew in a boat across the Sound to gather wild greens for the ship's company. As they failed to return to the ship at night the captain became very anxious, and in the morning despatched Mr. Burney, the second lieutenant, in search. Mr. Burney was a very precise officer, and has left a fairly detailed account of his day's search, which resulted in the finding of some mangled remains of his shipmates at Grass Cove. Mr. Burney's report is in the form of a letter to his commander, and is copied in the ship's log-book. I had with me a copy of this report.
I had made inquiries at Picton as to the whereabouts of Grass Cove, but nobody knew the name. One old gentleman told me it was understood that the massacre happened at Cabbage Bay. Last Christmas Mr. A. H. Turnbull, of Wellington, an enthusiastic searcher into early New Zealand history, had made a cruise to the Sounds in his yacht. He was possessed of Hawkesworth's edition of “Cook's Voyages,” in which was the chart of the Sound, and on which Grass Cove is marked. I had with me photographs which he had taken in the Sounds, and which he had kindly sent me, and Grass Cove was one of them; but I had not asked him where it was, thinking that I would have no diffi-
culty in getting information at Picton. Round the camp-fire on our first night we tried to fix it. Mr. Ratcliffe, after reading Lieutenant Burney's report, affirmed that the place described could not be very far from where we were, and, on opening the packet of photographs, our surprise was great to find that we were actually at Grass Cove, and sitting but a few yards from where the unfortunate men were killed. The feeling was rather awesome, notwithstanding the 128 years that had elapsed, the occurrence and details being vividly before our minds. There was no doubt about it, for the place tallied with what Lieutenant Burney described.
Now that Grass Cove had been so easily found, I thought that our third day could not be better spent than in trying to go over the course taken by Burney in his search for his missing shipmates. Therefore the following morning we were up soon after the bell-birds and under way, armed with the modern chart and the lieutenant's old report. The instructions given to Mr. Burney by Captain Furneaux were to “look well into East Bay, and if no sign of the boat there then to proceed to Grass Cove.” Burney's course across the Sound we knew, for he mentions passing Long Island and rounding Long Point. We rightly concluded that the Clarke Point on the modern chart was the Long Point of Cook. Mr. Burney was in charge of a boat heavily laden with a good number of men, with their muskets and ammunition and three days' provisions, and his pace through the water would not be as fast as our modern oil-launch. Some rough calculation was therefore necessary to fit our time and distances in with his. We found that Mr. Burney explored into what is now called Gilbert Bay and along the north shore of East Bay, and, not finding any traces of the missing boat there, crossed over the bay to the east shore. We got on his tracks on the east side, where he says there was a native settlement. Although no natives live there now, and the place is all overgrown, Mr. Ratcliffe, who was with us, knew the spot to be where a pa had once been.
On a small beach adjoining to Grass Cove Burney found the first evidence that a massacre had taken place, for some baskets had just been brought there by a canoe. In these baskets were cooked human flesh and fern-root, also the hand of a white man with “TH” tattooed upon it. From the site of the old pa to this small beach took us twenty-two minutes. Burney records that his time was within an hour. Mr. Burney's report says, “I launched the canoe with intent to destroy her, but, seeing a great smoke ascending over the nearest hill, I got all the people into the boat and made what haste I could to be with them before sunset. On opening the
next bay, which was Grass Cove, we saw four canoes, one single and three double ones, and a great many people on the beach, who on our approach retreated to a small hill within a ship's length of the water-side, where they stood talking to us.” The small hill alluded to by Mr. Burney rises up from the beach about the middle of the cove. Captain Cook visited this place three years afterwards, on his third voyage, and tells what he could find out about the cause of the calamity. He also says, “Pedro and his companions, besides relating the history of the massacre, made us acquainted with the very spot that was the scene of it. It is at the corner of the cove on the right hand.” This means, I feel sure, the right-hand corner of the cove looking towards it from seawards.
Grass Cove is known to the people of the Sound as Nott's Bay. Its Maori name is Otanerua.
Professor Morris, in vol. xxxiii. of the Transactions, page 501, falls into an error about the locality of this massacre, and records that it happened at a place which he calls Adventure Bay. There is no Adventure Bay on either Cook's chart or the modern one. The bay alluded to, of which Professor Morris says the two headlands are Edgecumbe Point and Marine Point, is called on the modern chart Endeavour Inlet and on Cook's old chart West Bay.