On the morning of 9 December 1995 the replica of the Endeavour entered Auckland harbour at the start of a three month visit to New Zealand.Auckland's morning paper marked the occasion with an advertising supplement the previous day, and on the day itself had beautiful coloured photos of the Endeavour on its front and back pages. Several shipping companies ran special "Welcome the Endeavour" trips.
When the Endeavour reached the entrance to the harbour hundreds of boats of all sizes were waiting to escort her up the harbour. Amongst these was a waka (Maori canoe) approximately the same length as the Endeavour The Governor General, the Prime Minister and other officials boarded the ship and, preceded by a police escort and followed by the sailing ships Soren Larsen (TV's Onedine Line) and the Spirit of Adventure (NZ sailing training ship), she began her journey.
My first impression was of her small size. It seemed incredible that such a small ship could, in Cook's day, have had so many people on board. My next impression was how colourful she looked. I had not expected that. She had a lot of red and yellow which stood out even though the day itself was overcast and at times showery.
I was on a 100 year old harbour ferry, the captain of which was fully occupied trying to avoid collisions with other craft jostling for a better view. For most of the time it was like being on the road at rush hour with no marked lanes. The captain seemed to be continually calling out to her lookouts, sounding her ship's horn and ringing orders to the engine room The police on naval dingies were hard pressed to keep a safety zone around the Endeavour. Thousands more watched from vantage points around the harbour. Many Union Jacks were flying.
The ships stopped alongside the Royal New Zealand Naval base at Devonport while a 21 gun salute was fired. Technically, this was to honour the Queen's representative, but everyone knew it was really to honour the memory of Captain Cook and the Endeavour. I was surprised by the intensity of the noise as the Endeavour's small cannon fired back several volleys. Until recently some charts used in New Zealand were based on Cook's observations. The largest ship at the naval base, the RNZN Monawai, recently completed a survey which updated these charts.
As the ship passed the wharves for the first time tugs sprayed water in arches from their fire hydrants. Some ships in port sounded their horns while others flew special bunting. The next ship in the harbour was the cable ship Pacific Guardian a large white ship bristling with the latest electronic navigation equipment. She was decked from bow to stem with signal flags.
As the ship passed under the harbour bridge she once more fired her canon. The noise on the water was quite deafening, as the low clouds and metal of the bridge acted as a sound shell. Hundreds of people stood on the land under the bridge.
After proceeding up the harbour for a short distance she turned and began a return journey under the bridge, and past the port once more. Conditions on the water were chaotic as vessels were now going in two directions and meeting head on in close proximity. Helicopters with television cameramen and press photographers dropped ever lower to get better viewpoints.
The Endeavour turned once more and approached her berth. As she approached the wharf area the sound of a Maori chant could be heard, and once more the waka appeared. After berthing there was an official welcome from the Government and people of New Zealand. The crew did a Maori haka (war dance) as part of the reply by the ship's company. Then the skies opened and torrential rain fell.
Next day about 2500 people visited the ship and large numbers of people continued to do so daily. The National Maritime Museum adjacent to the berth had a small display associated with the visit. This included four paintings from the Florilegium by Banks, with three of the actual specimens on display. The Auckland Botanical Gardens had a special display of scurvy grass.
Television gave considerable favourable publicity to the visit. TVNZ is a major sponsor of the visit and the cause of one of the many controversies associated with the visit, by having its TVNZ pennants on the Endeavour and dozens of other boats, thus preventing its rivals from showing some photos of the ship. So far there has been some opposition to the visit from some Maori groups. To its credit TVNZ went out of its way to arrange an on-screen reconciliation between Maori groups and the Endeavour's captain.
On visiting the Endeavour I was struck once more by its colour and size. To me it lost some authenticity because it was so clean and newly painted. Below decks I could not help but notice the cramped living conditions. The only spacious area was the Grand Cabin. The carpenter's workshop where the replica's carpenter works must have only been about 1.5 metres high. He would have to kneel while working. The cooking facilities were interesting as all meals were cooked on one stove: officers on one side and all the rest on the other. The people serving would then have to carry the officers' meals up on to the deck and then down again to the officers quarters. They must have had a lot of cold meals! There were literally miles and miles of ropes on the ship.
I would sum up my impressions with the one word "incredible". I purchased an excellent souvenir in Harriet Allan's 32 page book "The Endeavour: A Collector's Souvenir" for $NZ15. Any one who would like me to get them one can send me $NZ20 in New Zealand currency or write to me, offering some Cook related item in return, at 35 Rutland Road, Mt Wellington, Auckland 1106.
December 9, 1995
The Endeavour arrives at Auckland today after a 12-day voyage from Sydney. The ship left Sydney on November 28 with 56 people. It was farewelled by members of the Kotuku Maori cultural group, and given a blessing for the 1200 nautical mile journey. Much of the trip was plagued by light winds, and engines were used at times to meet today's arrival deadline.
The ship made New Zealand in nine days, and spent the past two rounding Cape Reinga, at the top of North Island, and sailing down the east coast. The 36 volunteer crew, who were largely strangers at the start of the voyage, spent their days on watches of four hours on and eight hours off. They have also had talks on Cook's voyages, and his role in New Zealand history. They will disembark in Auckland leaving the permanent crew of 15 on board.
The Endeavour will be berthed at the National Maritime Museum on Hobson Wharf for the next month.
January ?, 1996
The Endeavour anchored in Mercury Bay yesterday, on a detour to the original schedule of its New Zealand voyage. 30 volunteers are helping to crew the ship, which was going to bypass Mercury Bay until the local community board chairperson, Joan Gaskell, convinced Captain Chris Blake to change course.
Cook had observed the transit of the planet Mercury during an 11-day stay here in 1769, as well as planting the British flag, and receiving a friendly welcome from the Ngati Hei tribe. Descendants of Ngati Hei were equally enthusiastic when Captain Blake was invited on to the site of the Wharetaewa Pa.
The Endeavour will be open to the public at Mt. Maunganui. Admission is $12, $5 for children, and $28 for a family.
From information supplied by John Robson
Originally published in Cook's Log, page 1276, volume 19, number 2 (1996).