chapter  12
14 Pages

The emptiness of the wild

ByPhilip Armstrong, Annie Potts

In January 1770 James Cook’s Endeavour , the fi rst European vessel to make extended landfall in New Zealand, lay at anchor in Queen Charlotte Sound at the northern tip of the South Island. Joseph Banks, the ship’s naturalist (later president of the Royal Society), recorded his impression of a land full of wild vitality:

This morn I was awakd by the singing of the birds ashore from whence we are distant not a quarter of a mile, the numbers of them were certainly very great who seemd to strain their throats with emulation perhaps; their voices were certainly the most melodious wild musick I have ever heard, almost imitating small bells but with the most tuneable silver sound imaginable.