Tupaia: Captain Cook's Polynesian Navigator

Overview

Tupaia was the brilliant Polynesian navigator and translator who sailed with Captain James Cook from Tahiti, piloted the Endeavour across the South Pacific, and interceded on behalf of the European voyagers with the warrior Maori of New Zealand. As a man of high social ranking, Tupaia was also invaluable as an intermediary, interpreting local rituals and ceremonies. Joseph Banks, the botanist with Cook's expedition, is famous for describing the manners and customs of the Polynesian people in detail. Much of the ...

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Overview

Tupaia was the brilliant Polynesian navigator and translator who sailed with Captain James Cook from Tahiti, piloted the Endeavour across the South Pacific, and interceded on behalf of the European voyagers with the warrior Maori of New Zealand. As a man of high social ranking, Tupaia was also invaluable as an intermediary, interpreting local rituals and ceremonies. Joseph Banks, the botanist with Cook's expedition, is famous for describing the manners and customs of the Polynesian people in detail. Much of the credit for this information rightfully belongs to Tupaia—indeed, he could aptly be called the Pacific's first anthropologist.

Despite all this, Tupaia's colorful tale has never been part of the popular Captain Cook legend. This unique book tells the first-contact story with Europeans as seen through the eyes of the Polynesians, and documents how Tupaia's contributions changed the history of the Pacific.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The only biography of Tupaia, Druett's astute portrait vitally contributes to annals of exploration and cultural contact."

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Booklist

"Druett's narrative beautifully captures the essence of Tupaia's world and brings it alive for readers. Her excellent study of an extraordinary—and nearly forgotten—Tahitian should be enjoyed by readers interested in British maritime history and Polynesian history and culture."

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Library Journal

"Joan Druett has written an interesting and very readable book. . . . Pacific historians will be familiar with most of the events described in the book, but will appreciate this fine focus on and tribute to Tupaia "

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International Journal of Maritime History

Library Journal
Many accounts of James Cook's first voyage to the South Pacific (1768–71) make scant mention of the Tahitian high priest Tupaia who became an invaluable navigator and translator on Cook's ship Endeavour for the latter part of the voyage. Maritime historian Druett's (Island of the Lost) refreshing, detailed, and insightful biographical history redresses that lack. Much of what is known about Tupaia comes from the journals of the officers, scientists, and seamen with whom he shared the voyage, and Druett has drawn heavily upon these sources, showing Tupaia to have had extensive knowledge of South Pacific island locations beyond Tahiti and outstanding skill in celestial navigation. He also helped the Endeavour's crew in translating the language and interpreting local culture on other Polynesian islands where Cook conducted extensive explorations. Tupaia's legacy is apparent in his fascinating drawings made during the ship's voyage, reproduced here, which provide a glimpse into his perceptions of the world around him. VERDICT Druett's narrative beautifully captures the essence of Tupaia's world and brings it alive for readers. Her excellent study of an extraordinary—and nearly forgotten—Tahitian should be enjoyed by readers interested in British maritime history and Polynesian history and culture.—Elizabeth Salt, Otterbein Univ. Lib., Westerville, OH
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780313387487
  • Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 11/18/2010
  • Pages: 255
  • Sales rank: 1,066,774
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

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