Here are five items not to be missed in the collection.

Pahoa (Dagger) of Swordfish Reputed to Be the One Which Killed Cook c. 1779

Pahoa (Dagger) of Swordfish Reputed to Be the One Which Killed Cook c. 1779

swordfish Hooper Collection, Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, Honolulu, 1977.206.013

Photo by Jesse W. Stephen, copyright © Bishop Museum, 2018; Bishop Museum Archives

 

Though eyewitness accounts record that Cook was killed by an iron dagger, stories persist that a carved swordfish-bill dagger was used.  

 

Cook’s Box of Instruments c. 1750

Cook’s Box of Instruments c. 1750

wood, engraved brass, glass, letterpress

National Library of Australia, Rex Nan Kivell Collection (Pictures) nla.cat-vn2640976

 

This set of instruments includes a sundial for telling the time, a spirit level, a compass and an astrolabe. It was used by Cook as early as the 1750s.  

 

Chief Mourner’s Costume from the Society Islands 1700s

Chief Mourner’s Costume from the Society Islands 1700s

shell, plant fibre

Collection of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, FE000336

Gift of Lord St Oswald, 1912

 

In the rituals that followed the death of a Society Islands chief, the ‘chief mourner’ (usually a relative of the deceased) would rage around the village, accompanied by attendants, scaring all who crossed his path. On 10 June 1769, Joseph Banks was allowed to participate, playing the role of one of the attendants. This chief mourner’s costume is one of at least 10 collected on Cook’s second Pacific voyage. Highly valuable, they were made of rare materials by an expert craftsperson.

 

James Cook (1728–1779)

James Cook (1728–1779)

Journal of HMB Endeavour 1768–71

ink

Manuscripts Collection, National Library of Australia

Inscribed on the UNESCO Memory of the World Register, 2001, nla.cat-vn3525402

 

This is the journal Lieutenant James Cook kept on the Endeavour voyage. It is in Cook’s own handwriting and is today considered a foundational treasure of the National Library of Australia. It is still a draft, though a fair copy, with crossings-out and amendments, which show careful rethinking and reworking by Cook.  

 

William Hodges (1744–1797)

William Hodges (1744–1797)

Portrait of Tynai-mai, Princess of Ra’iatea c. 1773

chalk

National Library of Australia, Pictures Collection nla.cat-vn2055286

Tynai-mai was a Ra’iatean princess. In his voyage account, naturalist Georg Forster described her in this way: ‘Her eyes were full of fire and expression, and an agreeable smile sat in her round face. Mr Hodges took this opportunity of drawing a sketch of her portrait, which her vivacity and restless disposition rendered almost impossible.’  

 

Find out more about the exhibition here.