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Oil and acrylic on canvas
900 x 1200mm (image); 945 x 1245 x 70mm (frame)

This work formed part of Let’s NOT celebrate Cook, a solo show by Robyn Kahukiwa at Mahara Gallery, Waikanae. The artist wrote the following statement to accompany the exhibition:

‘Captain James Cook was a British sailor, explorer and Naval Lieutenant sent by King George III of Britain under the Doctrine of Discovery to find and claim any unknown lands in the Southern Hemisphere for the British Empire.’

‘Cook’s ship, HMS Endeavour, sailed across Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa (now known as the Pacific Ocean) and arrived at Aotearoa October 8, 1769. Cook and his crew made landfall at Tūranga-nui-a-Kiwa (which Cook named Poverty Bay) on October 9, 1769.’

‘There, he erected the Union Jack, the flag of Britain, so claiming this ‘new’ land for the British Empire.’

‘Cook and his crew had an ‘encounter’ with the sovereign nation, Rongowhakaata—the Tangata Whenua of that land. This culminated in nine Māori being shot and killed with others wounded. Cook had guns: Māori did not.’

‘Over the next six months, Cook circumnavigated Aotearoa. Cook and his crew made several more landings, killing and wounding more Māori as he carried out his mission to discover and claim any ‘new’ lands for the British Empire.’

‘The invasion of Captain James Cook and his claiming of Aotearoa began the British colonisation of the sovereign Māori nations of Aotearoa, New Zealand.’

‘2019 was the 250-year anniversary of Cook’s invasion. In celebration, the New Zealand Government set up a group, Tuia 250, in the Ministry of Culture and Heritage and funded it with over $20 million to re-enact Cook’s circumnavigation of Aotearoa using a replica of the ship Endeavour.’

‘Many Māori are distressed and angered by this celebration and memorialising of Captain James Cook. I am one of them.’

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Robyn F / Kahukiwa 2019

Exhibition History

Archive: alter / image, City Gallery Wellington Te Whare Toi, Te Whanganui-a-Tara, 23 September 2023 to 21 January 2024

Sharjah Biennial 15: Thinking Historically in the Present, Sharjah Art Museum, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, 7 February to 11 June 2023

Gathered Voices: Highlights from the Fletcher Trust Collection, New Zealand Portrait Gallery Te Pūkenga Whakaata, Te Whanganui-a-Tara, 15 September to 11 December 2022

Robyn Kahukiwa, Let’s NOT celebrate Cook, Mahara Gallery, Waikanae, 21 February to 12 April 2020

A Bloody Encounter, Pātaka Art + Museum, Porirua, 15 November to 8 December 2019


Fletcher Trust Collection, purchased from Dunbar Sloane, Te Whanganui-a-Tara, 21 April 2021, lot 73

Collection of the artist