A Voyage of Discovery

Published: Mon 6 Sep 1999 01:43 PM
In 1773, Captain James Cook visited Dusky Sound in the far south of New Zealand. The voyage artist, William Hodges, produced remarkable paintings of the spectacular antipodean environment, and of the Maori people who occupied it. The visit represents one of the beginnings of New Zealand's colonial history. What impact has it had and how do we make sense of it today, as we face a new millennium?
To explore these and other questions, photographer Mark Adams and anthropologist and historian Nicholas Thomas journeyed to two places where Cook put ashore in 1773: Dusky Sound in the far south of the South Island, and Queen Charlotte Sound at its northern end. The result is a book, Cook's Sites: Revisiting History, and an associated exhibition, which opened at Te Papa Tongarewa on 4 September and shows for six months before touring New Zealand (starting at the Southland Museum, then moving north).
In Cook's Sites, landscape photographs by Mark Adams are juxtaposed with the eighteenth-century record of Hodge's paintings, and diary entries by members of Cook's crew. Over a hundred superb landscape photographs printed in duotone are included. Together, the photographs and text of the book examine the traces of the past in these places, opening up ambiguities, and avoiding easy judgements. This is not a history book, but a book about how interpretations of history change with time and perception, a book which enlarges our ideas of history and of place. Cook's Sites is a revelation of places of unique historical significance.
In the six years since the project was conceived, the authors have gone from one end of the world to the other. They visited Dusky Sound and Queen Charlotte Sound three times, camping out in the Fiordland rainforest for two weeks, Adams lugging around with him a large eight-by-ten-inch field camera and tripod. And they journeyed to Europe on jumbo jets to record where botanical specimens, indigenous artefacts, and the voyagers' documents ended up, taking photographs for the book in Berlin, Göttingen, Oxford and London.
The effort of the authors has been complemented by that of the publishers and printers. The book is published by the University of Otago Press with the assistance of the Centre for Cross-Cultural Research, Australian National University. So it is a trans-Tasman collaboration by both authors and publishers, and the extra funding has enabled a high standard of production - realised in the expert hands of Sharon Marson and Martin Schänzel of GP Print Ltd in Wellington, who produced superb work scanning and printing the images in duotone.
Contents: 1 Astronomers Point 2 Indian Island 3 The Cascade 4 The Cave 5 Ship Cove and Grass Cove 6 Berlin 7 Göttingen 8 Oxford Epilogue
About the Authors Mark Adams is one of New Zealand's most distinguished documentary photographers. He is represented in most major public collections in New Zealand. His work on Samoan tattooing, Maori-Pakeha interactions around Rotorua, and historic sites around the South Island has been extensively exhibited within New Zealand, as well as in Europe, Australia, South Africa, and Brazil. His previous books are Pakeha/Maori: a conjuncture (Rotorua Museum and Art Gallery, 1986) and Land of Memories (1993). The latter dealt with historical sites in Te Wai Pounamu - the South Island of New Zealand - and was linked to a major touring exhibition. A 1995 New Zealand Arts Council Fellowship enabled him to visit Britain and travel extensively in southern New Zealand, producing the work featured in Cook's Sites.
Nicholas Thomas, an anthropologist and historian, is currently Professor of Anthropology at Goldsmiths College, University of London. Previously he was Professor and Director of the Centre for Cross-Cultural Research at the Australian National University. His other books include Entangled Objects (Harvard, 1991), Colonialism's Culture (Polity and Princeton, 1994), Oceanic Art (Thames & Hudson, 1995) and Possessions: Indigenous Art/Colonial Culture (Thames & Hudson, 1999). He has recently edited two major Cook voyage texts closely linked with Cook's Sites for the University of Hawaii Press: Johann Reinhold Forster's Observations Made During a Voyage Around the World (1996) and George Forster's A Voyage Around the World (forthcoming, 1999).
Cook's Sites Revisiting History
Mark Adams & Nicholas
Thomas paperback, 196 pages
ISBN 1 877133 82 5

Next in Lifestyle

Honour Our Heritage, Aotearoa: Unite To Reclaim The Haka World Record!
By: Raukatauri Music Therapy Trust
Royal New Zealand Balet And New Zealand School Of Dance Partnership Expands
By: The New Zealand School of Dance
Enviroschools Projects Having Positive Changes With Schools
By: Enviroschools
Children’s Screen Time Study Gains $220,000 Boost
By: University of Canterbury
Inadequate Funding From Health New Zealand Puts Further Pressure On Patients
By: General Practice Owners Association
End Of An Era, Michelle Preston Hangs Up The Gloves For The Last Time
By: Benjamin Watt
View as: DESKTOP | MOBILE © Scoop Media