Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 11, May 1969

1969 appears to be a commemorative year for us, at least two Jubilees being celebrated in Ohinemuri - the 50th [corrected in Journal 12 to 60th - E] for the Waihi South School and the 80th for Karangahake. Both of these will be reported later, as will the arrival of Captain James Cook in 1769. Meanwhile we note his departure from England.

Just over 200 years ago a small heavily laden bark - 368 tons sailed out of Plymouth harbour and not even the Captain knew of his final destination. For his was a voyage of discovery and one which was to prove the most important of the l8th Century. The Royal Society had requested that a ship be sent to Tahiti in the South Seas to observe the transit of Venus on June 3rd 1869 [1769 – E], and the Admiralty, using the idea of a scientific expedition as an Empire "cover plan," purchased the Whitby "cat" "Earl of Pembroke," renamed her "Endeavour'' and sent her to the Naval dockyard at Deptford to be virtually rebuilt for her voyage.

The ship had to be altered to make room for the crew, the scientists and the stores. Gunports were cut for the few defensive guns she would carry and a larger galley was provided. Fresh sails were sewn and the masts and rigging renewed. Moreover, she was a floating laboratory, for apart from the normal requisites of such a voyage, stowed aboard were scientific equipment, cases of jars for specimens, pots and presses for plants, artists and writing materials, books and trinkets for possible barter.

Without fanfare the H.M.S. Endeavour left the Naval dockyard on July 21st 1768 and proceeded to Plymouth to load stores. Its master was Lt. James Cook, 40 years of age, astronomer, mathematician, cartographer, and first class seaman. Among the important passengers who joined him were two distinguished botanists - Joseph Banks and Dr. Danial Solander. Finally there were on board 94 men, 10 guns, provisions for l8 months, 2 greyhounds and a goat which had already survived one circumnavigation. Concoctions to use against scurvy - the bane of early sailors, included marmalade, carrots, sauerkraut, concentrated citrus juices and wort - the infusion of malt before being fermented into beer. Captain Cook was determined that all hands should remain healthy.

So, at 2 p.m. on August 26th 1768 they set forth on their momentous voyage. Before them lay the unchartered Pacific, their astronomical observations and their search for "Terra Australis Incognita." It was a brave determined venture, holding no certainty concerning the distant lands visited by Tasman more than 100 years before - lands which included the nebulous but named "Nova Zeelandia."

It is with regret that we announce another impending departure - that of the Rev. L.M. Rogers M.A. who will be retiring to Tauranga this year. Mr. Rogers has been the President of our Paeroa Society and the Convener of our Publishing Committee from its foundation in 1964. He will be greatly missed. We thank him for his scholarly leadership which has been our inspiration and wish him and Mrs. Rogers every blessing.