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J.C. Beaglehole, more than a biographer of Cook


John Cawte Beaglehole wrote the definitive biography of Cook and edited his journals.

Did he do anything else?

The answer is a definite YES.

He was born on 13th June 1901, and educated at Victoria University of Wellington and University of London,

He became a history lecturer, historical adviser to the Department of Internal Affairs, chairman of the board of management of the New Zealand University Press, president of the New Zealand Council for Civil Liberties, a member of the board of trustees of the National Art Gallery and Dominion Museum, a professor of British Commonwealth history at Victoria, a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand

He was awarded the C.M.G. in 1958, Linnaeus Medal in 1966, Order of Merit in 1970 .

He died at his home on 10th October 1971.

Beaglehole wrote many monographs, poems, articles, notes, book reviews, letters and books; the first in 1919 when he was 18, the last in 1971 when he was 70.

They are summarised in "John Cawte Beaglehole. A bibliography" by A.G. Bagnall; published in 1972 by the Alexander Turnbull Library.

From it one can chart Beaglehole's literary association with the Pacific explorers:

1934 "The exploration of the Pacific" (second edition)
1936 "New Zealand: a short history"
1939 "The discovery of New Zealand"
1942 "Abel Janszoon Tasman and the discovery of New Zealand" (editor)
1947 "The exploration of the Pacific"
1950 "As Captain Cook put it" an article
1952 Review of "Captain Cook in New Zealand" by A.H. and A.W. Reed
1955 "Journals of Captain James Cook: Endeavour voyage"
1956 "On the character of Captain James Cook", an article
1957 "Some problems of editing Cook's journals", an article
1959 Review of "Sir Joseph Banks in New Zealand" by W.P. Morrell
1960 Review of "Surveyor of the Sea: the life and voyages of Captain George Vancouver"
1961 "The discovery of New Zealand" (second edition)
  "Journals of Captain James Cook: Resolution and Adventure Voyage".
  Review of "The Discovery of the Pacific Islands" by Andrew Sharp
1962 "The Endeavour Journal of Joseph Banks"
1963 "The Endeavour Journal of Joseph Banks" (second edition)
1964 "The Death of Captain Cook", an address
1965 Review of "John Ledyard's Journal of Captain Cook's last voyage by J.K. Munford
  Review of "The Golden Haze" by Roderik Cameron
1966 "The Exploration of the Pacific" (third edition)
1967 "Captain Cook and Captain Bligh" a lecture
  "Journals of Captain James Cook: Resolution and Discovery Voyage"
  Biographical articles in Encyclopaedia Britannia on James Cook, Alexander Dalrymple and others
1968 "Pacific Exploration before Cook" an article
1969 "The Discovery of Australia", a revision of a book by Arnold Wood
  "Cook the Navigator", an article
  "Some problems of Cook's biographer" an article
  "The Study of Cook: a host of questions to ask" an article
  "The Unknown Cook" an article
  Review of "The Voyages of Abel Janszoon Tasman" by A.C. Sharp
1970 "Cook the Writer" an article
  "Cook the Man" an article
  Patron's address: Not about Captain Cook
  "What made Cook a Discovery", an article
1971 "James Cook and Mercury Bay", an article
  "Cook in the Cook Islands and Tonga", an article

One of Beaglehole's other activities was to assist in the identifying and marking of Cook landing sites in New Zealand. For 16 years he was a member of the New Zealand Historic Places Trust, its principal authority on the art of printing, the choice of illustators, layout and typeface for its publications, the perfecting of alphabets for bronze plaques and Formica noticeboards.

As a tribute to the man and these activities the Trust published in 1978 "A Sense of History. A commemorative publication for John Cawte Beaglehole, O.M., about James Cook's landing sites in New Zealand" by Frances Porter.

The sites of the monuments, cairns and plaques covered are listed below in chronological order of Cook's arrival, together with the date of unveiling.

1769 October 7 Poverty Bay, Kaiti Beach, 7 October 1906 (illustrated)
1769 October 20-22 Anaura Bay, Hawaii Stream, 24 June 1958
1769 October 23-29 Tolaga Bay, Cook's Cove, on a hill in Paremata Block 64A, 1966
1769 November 5-15 Mercury Bay, Shakespeare Cliff, March 1954
1769 November 10 Mercury Bay, Purangi River, 9 November 1969
1769 November 21 River Thames (Waihou River), Kopu Bridge, 21 November 1941 (illustrated), resited alongside Kopu Public Hall, 1969
1769 November 30 Bay of Islands, Motuarohia - negotiations failed
1770 and other dates Queen Charlotte Sound, Ship Cove, 11 February 1913 (illustrated)
1770 January 31 Queen Charlotte Sound, Motuara Island, 31 January 1920
1770 January Queen Charlotte Sound, Motuara Island, 22 March 1971
1773 April Dusky Sound, Astronomers Point, March 1963
1773 December 17 Queen Charlotte Sound, Burney's Beach, 13 November 1971

The commemorative plaque to Beaglehole is in Old St. Paul's Pro-Cathedral, Wellington. The inscription includes the words used by the Maori Te Horeta to describe Cook, which are equally applicable to Beaglehole:

"E kore te tino torgata e ngaro i roto i te tokomaha"

that is

"A great man cannot be hidden in crowd" .

Ian Boreham

Originally published in Cook's Log, page 310, volume 7, number 4 (1984).

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