A granite obelisk marking the site of Captain Cook’s first landing in New Zealand in 1769.
An old cast-iron cannon, weighing 2 cwt and 3 ft 8 inches long, rests upon a concrete base alongside the monument. It is claimed that this is one of the carriage guns which were put overboard to lighten Endeavour when she ran on the Barrier Reef. This was recovered in 1903 by a Japanese diver off Cooktown.
Initial interest in the site was generated by Archdeacon Herbert Williams in 1888, when he presented a paper to the Auckland Institute on Cook’s visit to Poverty Bay and Tolaga Bay. The site then had hardly changed since Cook’s first visit.
In 1902 a committee, chaired by Archdeacon Williams, was formed in Gisborne, with the intention of erecting a memorial on Cook’s first landing site.
The memorial was in place in 1906, at a total cost of £1,066. It was unveiled on Monday 8th October of that year amid street parades, speeches and a Maori haka party, welcoming naval personnel and members of Parliament from HMS Challenger and SS Tutanekai. The monument was unveiled by Sir James Carroll, in front of approximately 5000 people.
By the mid 1950’s the monument was under threat from the high tide mark. In 1959 it was 250 feet from the high tide mark, due to harbour board development. The owners of the site was Gisborne City Council.
In 1964 the Historic Places Trust sent a deputation to meet members of the Gisborne Harbour Board and City Council, this deputation was led by Professor JC Beaglehole, and it established negotiations which eventually secured the area as an historic reserve in 1966.
In 1969, the 200th anniversary of Cook’s landing at Gisborne was celebrated. Representatives of five navies were present, also the Governor General, Prime Minister and other dignitaries.
In 1990, the commemoration of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi also raised the status of the Cook Landing Site.
There were celebrations on 9th October 1990, when the site was declared a National Historic Reserve, when a landscape plan was developed by a Department of Conservation landscape architect Simon Smale, with input from the Cook Landing Site working party.
The Historic Places Trust placed bronze panels in Maori and English to explain the significance of the site.
On 9th October 1994 the 225th anniversary of Cook’s landing here was celebrated.
Upon the memorial:
Is Erected to Commemorate
The First Landing
In New Zealand
At Poverty Bay
Of Captain Cook
On Sunday, 8th October, 1769
GPS Coordinates: -38,709007, 177.982476
Heritage Listing: This site is number 8 on the “History of New Zealand in 100 Places list”
Cook’s Log, page 1089, vol. 17, no. 4 (1994)