Originally published on the The Old Salt Blog
Joan Druett’s new book, Tupaia – Captain Cook’s Polynesian Navigator, fills an important blank space in the history, as well as the legend, of Captain Cook. On his first voyage to the Pacific in HMS Endeavour, during a stop in Tahiti, Cook took aboard a Polynesian high priest named Tupaia. Tupaia was also a skilled navigator and would serve as translator and diplomat for Cook when he encountered the warlike Maoris of New Zealand.
While Tupaia played a critical role in the success of Cook’s first voyage, he died of complications from scurvy in Batavia and was never given the credit he was due by either Captain Cook or Josephs Banks in their accounts of the expedition. Finally Tupaia’s story is being told, in this, the first full biography of the remarkable navigator, linguist, artist and priest. It is a fascinating tale, well told.