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Oil on canvas
890 x 1190mm

Inscriptions: Robyn F / Kahukiwa 2019

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.’

Exhibition History

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


Purchased from Dunbar Sloane, Te Whanganui-a-Tara, May 2021. Formerly in the collection of the artist.

The Fletcher Trust Collection is one of the largest curated private collections of Aotearoa art. The Trust makes works available online as well as via exhibitions initiated by public art institutions and by the Trust itself.

The Fletcher Trust
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Auckland 1142
New Zealand


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