Boat trip to mark historic occasion

02:00, Jan 25 2013

A celebration of the first ship's captain on record for circumnavigating the country - who was later stabbed to death while exploring Hawaii - will take place at one of his favourite spots, Ship Cove.

The Marlborough Historical Society is organising a boat trip on February 10 to Ship Cove in Queen Charlotte Sound, for anybody wanting to mark the 100-year anniversary of the unveiling of the cove's memorial to Captain James Cook in 1913, and his death on February 14, 1779.

Cook claimed New Zealand for the British empire in 1769 and spent more than 300 days in total circumnavigating the islands on the HMS Endeavour and Resolution. It is believed he was hit in the head and stabbed to death in Hawaii on February 14, 1779.

He first sailed into Ship Cove on January 16, 1770.

In his journal, dated February 6 that year, he described it as a "very snug cove" and wrote of the abundance of fish nearby.

"The number of inhabitants hardly exceeds 300 or 400 people, they live dispersed along the shores in search of their daily bread, which is fish and fern roots for they cultivate no part of the lands," Captain Cook wrote.


"Upon the appearance of danger they retire to their Hippa's or strongholds for in this situation we found them and they remained so for some days after."

Research provided by Mike Taylor at the Picton Museum showed a 250-pound concrete memorial, 15-feet-square at its base and 15-feet high, was unveiled at the cove by Lord Liverpool to more than 5000 onlookers in 1913.

The Pelorus Guardian covered the story.

"Having concluded his main address, the governor created a profound sensation by reading a wireless message announcing the disaster which had befalled Captain [Robert Falcon] Scott's southern party," the Guardian stated.

"The governor made striking analogous allusion to the heroism of the Antarctic party and the deeds of the great man they were doing justice to that day," the newspaper reported.

Department of Conservation community relations project manager and Marlborough Historical Society committee member Robin Cox said the 2013 tour group will be guided by Marlborough historian John Orchard.

Anyone interested in going should register their interest as soon as possible.

Tickets for the boat cruise to Ship Cove and other sites visited by Captain Cook cost $60 for non Marlborough Historical Society members and $50 for members.

They are available from the Marlborough Museum, contact 03 578 1712.

The Marlborough Express