PAUL DALEY. Captain Cook’s legacy is complex, but whether white Australia likes it or not he is emblematic of violence and oppression (The Guardian 3-10-19)

British and Australian regret over Cook’s treatment of Indigenous people would go a long way to enhancing understanding of the continent’s shared history

The British government has issued an oh-so-carefully worded expression of “regret” for the killing of Māori in Aotearoa, today’s New Zealand, at the point of first contact during Lieutenant James Cook’s “voyage of discovery” 250 years ago.

Regrets! The old empire certainly has had cause for a few when it comes to the violence it has meted out to the indigenes of the places it took during Britain’s colonial expansion.

For the deaths of a million Irish in the potato famine. For the Kenyans tortured and imprisoned during the Mau Mau insurgency. For the Indians killed in the Amritsar massacre. And, now, for the Māori, whose first contact with Cook’s HMS Bark Endeavour in 1769 was characterised by disastrous violence for the first Aotearoans.

After Endeavour anchored near the eastern bank of the Tūranganui River close to New Zealand’s present-day Gisborne, Te Maro, a senior man of the Ngāti Oneone group, was promptly shot and killed while leading a ceremonial challenge to the British sailors. At least eight more Māori were killed over the next few days in what British history has largely cast, based on the diaries of Cook and others on the Endeavour, as a misunderstanding.

As New Zealand counts down to next week’s 250th anniversary of Cook’s arrival there, Britain’s high commissioner in the country, Laura Clarke, made a “statement of regret” about the violent first contact.

“Here on behalf of the four countries of the United Kingdom, on behalf of the people of those four countries … I acknowledge the pain of those first encounters,” she said.

The violence Clarke referred to was stemmed by Tupaia, a Tahitian priest and experienced seaman who joined the Endeavour in the Society Islands and helped Cook and his crew navigate to New Zealand and onwards to the east coast of Australia.

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2 Responses to PAUL DALEY. Captain Cook’s legacy is complex, but whether white Australia likes it or not he is emblematic of violence and oppression (The Guardian 3-10-19)

  1. R. N. England says:

    People should read the relevant parts of Cook’s journal. There you will discover that he tried very hard, and risked his own life (as did Philip), to engage peacefully with native peoples, and resorted to shooting only when the lives of his crew were in clear danger. He, and his masters at the Admiralty were men of the Enlightenment, curious about and far from hostile to distant cultures. They would be bemused by the kind of nonsense (actually political posturing) written about them in this unenlightened age.

  2. Jim KABLE says:

    Paul DALEY: Always respectful of the Indigenous presence and ownership of this land we call to-day Australia. Of his time James Cook was surely a great navigator – but at the same time – and following his orders from the then version of the British Government – he himself disrespectful, as if by right, of the Indigenous peoples he sighted and dealt with (via a one-way line of sight and through the sights along that one-way line of gun, too) on his voyages. That Scott Trumpian Morrison thinks a replica vessel and non-historic circumnavigation of the continent is reasonable goes to his happy-clapper ignorance. New Zealand – as always it seems – leads our country in more appropriate ways of acknowledging past historical events. As for the massacres which followed the British Invasion of Australia – and hard to believe that less than two decades or so ago Keith Winschuttle – the strange fellow/buddy of John “can’t-say-sorry” Howard -was trying to deny massacres or to suggest it was only a little bit! Ugh! I am currently reading Tony Roberts about the horrors unleashed on Australia’s north while South Australia (no-convict-settlement South Australia they like to claim) had control of its jurisdiction – especially during the 1880s and 1890s when John DOWNER – of the so-called nation-building Downer family – so says grand-son Alexander) turned a blind eye to the many massacres and left theft of his buddies of the time. Where did that dreadful lot spring from? Or Twiggy and Gina – still in charge of stolen Indigenous countries! Clive? Adani? When will these robber barons pay the due compensation?

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