Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Last night, two dozen intensely interested members of the Wellington branch of the NZSA gathered in a pub to listen to a talk about a Polynesian explorer whose name has been lost in the shadows of history.

The unusual venue was the bar of the historic Thistle Inn, Wellington's oldest original tavern, and once the haunt of Bully Hayes, pirate.  This meant that stray members of the public were compelled to overhear the talk.  Interestingly, most of them stayed to listen.

The speaker was Joan Druett, whose biography of Tupaia, Captain Cook's Polynesian Navigator, will be published by Praeger in the US in November, and in New Zealand by Random House next July.  Copies of Tupaia's artwork and his famous chart of the Pacific were handed out, inspiring an energetic discussion.  This was followed by a description of Tupaia's poor relationship with Captain Cook, and the sad outcomes of this, including the Polynesian navigator's premature death in Batavia (Jakarta) of typhoid complicated by longstanding symptoms of scurvy.  The talk went well overtime, and was followed by enthusiastic applause, along with a call for closing time from the bar.

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