ABLE SEAMAN: Captain James Cook, an astronomer, a surveyor, a cartographer, a super sailor and a highly astute leader of men.

WE are this year marking 250 years since Captain James Cook sailed to New Zealand aboard the Endeavour after having recorded the transit of Venus at Tahiti.

Cook sailed to New Zealand, taking with him Tupaia, an accomplished Tahitian aristocrat and priest, who helped guide him through the Polynesian islands, and mapped the complete coastline of New Zealand.

It was the first recorded encounter between European and Maori since Dutch explorer Abel Tasman was first sighted 127 years earlier.

Details of Cook’s visit to the Eastern Bay are outlined in the Penguin Classics book called James Cook – The Journals.

On November 1, 1769, Cook spotted an island that he named White Island because that’s how it appeared to him. The following day, he came across an island called “Mowtohora”.

JOURNEY: A sketch, above, by Herman Sporing in 1769 of the little island of Motuhora or Whale Island, off Whakatane in the Bay of Plenty, and right, Motuhora Island from the south side.

“It is but of small circuit but high and lies six miles from the main,” he states.

On the same day he names an inland volcano “Mount Edgecomb”.

“It stands in the middle of a large plane, which makes it the more conspicuous.”

Various interaction with Maori and other observations are described in the book.

Meanwhile, in the book James Cook and New Zealand, written by A Charles Begg and Neil C Begg, more details of Cook’s visit to the Eastern Bay can be found, including a drawing of Motuhora.