Recording date:

A panel of First Nations voices, facilitated by Wiradjuri woman and media personality Rae Johnston, discusses the continuing impact of Cook and his voyages on First Nations peoples today.


First Nations Voices - Echoes of Cook


*Speakers: Female (F), Rae Johnston (R), Loretta Sullivan (L), Alberta Hornsby (A), Stella Pahula-Nahmir (S), Toa Fulivitakiari (T), Victor Channel (V), Shane Carriage, Male (M)

*Audience: (Au)

*Location: National Library of Australia

*Date: 22 September 2018


F:         This morning we have Shane Carriage and Victor Channel from the Ulladulla Local Aboriginal Lands Council, Alberta Hornsby and Loretta Sullivan from Cooktown, Stella Pahula-Nahmir from the ACT Tongan Language and Cultural School and Toa Fulivitakiari from the Canberra Oceania Community Alliance. The panel is hosted by Rae Johnston, editor at Junkee Australia, host of That Start-up Show and Rewired, an indigenous science kids’ show on NITV. Please join me in welcoming our panel.


R:        [Speaks Wiradjuri] 00:50. That’s hello, friends in my language, Wiradjuri language and I want to express my deep thanks, [speaks Wiradjuri] to Tyrone for his beautiful welcome to his country, it’s an honour to be here today and have all of these incredible panellists up here to discuss their involvement in this exhibition. And also the rather huge topic of the impact of Cook’s voyage over the years on indigenous people from all around the world. I would also like to acknowledge that this can be quite a painful topic to discuss and I would like to thank the panellists for doing this, really, it’s often a difficult topic to talk about so their voices are important and historically have been excluded from these kinds of conversations so to have a panel like this here today at this exhibition is incredibly important.

So I would like to start by asking the panel a question but also I would like to invite the audience to ask questions at any time during this panel. If you have a question simply raise your hand, a microphone will go on out to you. I want this to be a really kind of collaborative conversation here today, I’m sure you’ve got plenty of questions. But tackling that big, broader topic of the impact of Cook’s journey, what does that mean to you when you think about the impact of Cook on your people? Start here?

L:         [Speaks own language] 2:31, how are you? My name is Loretta Sullivan and I’m from Wabalumbaal [bidi] 2:35 which is the Endeavour River in north Queensland. I can only speak by saying that the impact that Cook’s visit to the Endeavour River has allowed us to find through the journals a lot of the history of the Guugu Yimithirr people and it’s allowed us to rewrite the script of – we do the re-enactment of Cook’s landing every year, we’ve been doing it for 60 years now and it’s allowed us to rewrite the script and – so that we have a better understanding of the indigenous part of Cook’s interaction with the Aboriginal people of the Endeavour River.

There were six meetings between the Aboriginal people and Cook and they were all instigated by the Aboriginal people because Cook wouldn’t allow them – Alberta will elaborate on what I’m saying shortly but – and correct me if I’m wrong but we’ve been working together on this story for about 10 years and we just believe it’s something very special that happened up at the Endeavour River and we just believe that we’re setting a pretty good example for the rest of Australia of how we can work together on our shared history. And the impact has been – as far as I’m concerned it’s been pretty good where we live but it has given us a really good insight into the things that happened.

R:        Thank you.

A:        Hi, I’m Alberta Hornsby, I would like to say thank you for this opportunity to talk here as well. I am a Guugu Yimithirr and [Agawuthi] 4:36 woman on my father’s side and I’m an [Indigi and Bangaleda] 4:40 woman on my mother’s side. Just by the fact that I have four different cultural connections to country is – the impact, not just by Cook but the impact that came after Cook by dispossession and also the very restrictive indigenous Aboriginal laws that were imposed on our people back in the early 1800s, that impact has continued to influence Aboriginal people today and it certainly has influenced me in being more aware of my cultural heritage, to be more aware of looking back to make some sense of the future. And I think most Aboriginal people would feel like that today. They often talk about trauma that is experienced after dispossession being – dispossession not only from your land but from your family, things like the stolen generation, all of these things have had an impact on my life.

And it was only in 2009 where – when I started looking at the journals of Captain Cook and I reluctantly did it but I had to – at that time I had to find another way of dealing with what I was feeling inside. And it’s taken me 10 years to come to a better understanding of two cultures and how it’s merged together today. And that – the re-enactment that we perform every year in Cooktown has certainly enlightened me and helped me feel better about myself as a – indigenous person from Australia because the journals spoke – even though it was written you know the first thing that was noted was that my people were – the people from the Endeavour River were naked. They were referred to as Indians and that was such a big thing in the journals and it really irritated me but then I thought well what a wonderful thing to have you know to have been naked with no – because of our laws and our cultural customs we were allowed – we could walk around naked because we had very strong sexual laws.

We had very strong marriage laws, we had a very strong society that bound people together to enable us to be naked. So – and I thought well that is something really great that I’ve learnt about firsthand. Cook said that we were you know we were satisfied with our life and you go to Cook – like I said last night you go to Cooktown, there’s everything there, there’s nothing that you would want for. Money makes it very hard but you know you’ve got everything there.

Aboriginal people continue to be impacted by what’s happened in the past but you know we need – as a human being – as human beings we need to be acknowledged who we are, our society, that it was not an uncivilised society, that we were not savages. We had very strong laws and land, we had very strong land laws on preservation and conservation of land and I think that is something that I’ve learnt that has given me strength to be – it’s empowered me as an indigenous person or indigenous woman. Thank you.

S:         Thank you very much and my name is Stella Pahula-Nahmir and I’m from the ACT Tongan Language and Culture School here in Canberra. And thank you very much for giving us the opportunity to share with you our understanding and our views of the impacts of Cook’s voyages to the Pacific but especially to Tonga. I do pay my respect to the Ngunnawal people of this land giving me permission to speak on their land.

Cook came over to Tonga <inaudible> 10:16 three visits to Tonga in 1773, 1774 and 1777. And there are three voyages, that mean there was a great impact in Tonga. But we were glad that this exhibition after 250 years of his visit to Tonga and of the Pacific, we still have the impact because right now we are sitting here talking about Cook’s voyage to the Pacific. I’m also thankful to the Library and the organisers giving us the opportunity to share with you ‘cause it bring to us the language also, learning about English, noticing the words list that was given to us to say it, the spelling, most of it was in the English alphabet because then in Tonga there was no alphabet or structures language so it was written in the English alphabet by the sound of the words. And we can pick that up and those are the things that we were so thankful. But that’s the impact, now we sit back and look at it and we said wow, that was happening those days and now we can witness after 250 years we still have that response and now it’s been develop and we have a language in Tonga.

But those days it was recorded and most of the items that we have seen here and witness have been brought from all over the world to be part of the exhibition, we were glad that one of the cloths that was given to Captain Cook by our [tamaha] 12:07, the highest-ranked woman in Tonga, the sister of the [dudonga] 12:12 was preserved because Cook took it and then brought for us over these years was witness that we did have a civilisation. We had government and governance because Tonga was already a kingdom then and the [Tuitonga] 12:32 ruled Tonga that time so Cook was visiting and that time there was a kava ceremony or the [inaci] 12:41, the presentation to the King and he wasn’t allowed to go in because it was taboo and sacred. But he was given time when the King visited and we were also known with the information that’s been provided to us that our King then was bow, asking what are those maps? The geography of looking at the Pacific where Tonga stand and we were glad that was already a system back home being enhanced by the information that – and the things that Cook bring in to develop the system that we have now.

And also thinking back Christianity came in 1826 to Tonga and we fought ‘cause the eastern side of the island - that’s where the King then, the [Tuitonga]. But the western part was more the chief that Captain Cook met in his first voyage and it seems like the missionaries were told when they came over to Tonga in 1826 to go to the western part because you might be welcome there more than trying the eastern side. And so Christianity tried first in 1824 and wasn’t accepted because it was on the eastern side and when they tried in 1826 at the western side they were accepted by the same chief that have the conversation and talked to Cook in his first voyage to Tonga. So Christianity were there and then it spread all over Tonga but that’s still part of the impact of Cook because we think back from the <inaudible> 14:42. It might be from the channel and the reports that he came, that the missionaries came over to Tonga with that idea of where they going to land and be part of the community and be accepted there. Thank you very much.


T:         [Speaks language] 15:09 and my name is Toa Fulivitakiari. Stella <inaudible> 15:15 has paid our respect on behalf of the Ngunnawal people. Well what can I say? I know – I will just try and look at it from a practical perspective of impact that Cook had on our little – tiny little island. Looking back at information and what I’ve read one thing that came out clear to my mind was that Cook actually introduced to our people to become materialistic in a good way, I hope so looking back at for example the gifts that one of the high chiefs received from Cook, a cloth, beads, a shirt, a glass bowl, he kept the glass bowl and gave the rest back. And looking at it now glass is viewed as something very precious in our culture. When we have a funeral, when we have a marriage, at weddings the offerings, particularly when a funeral, the precious glass is actually given to the people that are deceased as a very precious gift.

The other thing that I look at it, as Stella said we already have a system in our own little kingdom, the little tiny island but one thing, the culture that we had then that are still being practised now is giving and I guess that’s why Cook named Tonga the Friendly Islands and we’re known around the world as the Friendly Islands because of that, of the giving nature. But the giving was so much that they gave everything to Cook. They would go on the canoe to the ship and gave the pigs, the yams and baskets and basket. This other chief comes along and he did the same thing and then they were left with nothing. They all became hungry. So Cook showed them you got to keep this for tomorrow, keep this for next week whereas they just – they gave everything. And I see that still practising now with our people, they tend just to give everything that they have and then worry about tomorrow.

So I would say that influence that Cook had introduced to them way back and it made them think and it made them also view foreign material things as precious. For example their art and crafts or the workmanship that the Tongan had then which was purely material from within the island so when Cook gave them beads and other gifts they viewed that as more superior than the – perhaps the bandannas or the coconut fibre that they were using in their weaving. So then they used the beads instead of the you know the coconut fibre and the shells and what they have then. So they used that so the changes – impact, the changes that Cook, they have you know gone from having all original, everything Tonga to have foreign things now into their weaving.

So I would say that with Cook and his influence on our people are still happening now, it’s being practised until now. The fabric that he gave, the material that he gave then to the chiefs, a red cloth, red colour is used in Tongan – apart from our flag, it’s red but they used red a lot. Everyone wears red when it’s something special in Tonga and they used the fabrics even up to today for giving in weddings and gifts and you know and other things that were – as I mentioned earlier, the glass. So to me it’s still – it’s very much very practice from way back then. And sometimes you don’t realise and you wonder where it’s all come from until you start reading things and you start doing some research and you realise the impact that this man had on our island. It was you know it was unreal, 250 years ago and I’ve been living life and we’ve all been doing things and it started from him. He was the person who introduced all that to our people. Thank you.


V:        First I’d like to thank Tyrone for welcoming us onto his country and pay my respects to the Ngunnawal people. My name’s Vic Channel, I’m from Ulladulla <inaudible> 21:25 country. I’m a traditional [Marmari] 21:27 man, all my ancestors, my family background come from [Marmari] area. I think for myself and I speak for a lot of my [Marmari] people when I speak but for us it was a great deal of sorrow and sadness with the effects of Cook’s arrival.

Aboriginal people looked after our country for thousands and thousands of years and with the arrival of Cook you know there was a lot of desecration and a lot of sadness and harm that was carried out to our people and to our country so just the introduction of you know sickness and harm to our people and massacres that occurred throughout our country and significant values and traditions that Aboriginal people held and carried for thousands of years, to this day we’re still fighting very hard to get a lot of those traditions and values back. And it’s been a long struggle and it’s been a really hard battle and I myself, I do a lot of cultural education and cultural tours and a lot of our sites are pretty – it’s pretty daunting when we go back to <inaudible> 22:47 because of the effects of what’s happened in that area.

So I think whilst there was a lot of good things that happened from Cook’s arrival there was also a lot of bad that followed on with it and in saying that I think yes, Australia wouldn’t be what it is today if it wasn’t from that arrival but our people wouldn’t be doing what they’re doing now if it was.


Shane: [Speaks Maori] 23:51 which means all my friends, hello. Firstly on behalf of all Aboriginal people in Australia I’d like to thank James Cook for finding us. Apparently we were lost. To me personally the biggest fact that – and I don’t know whether you can directly attribute this to James Cook but someone’s got to be to blame.

On the east coast especially because it was the first place that was <inaudible> 24:24 we lost our language pretty much totally. Yeah, we pretty much lost our language and as my brothers and my sisters and my nephew would say to you, without language it’s really difficult to completely understand your culture and its laws. English is a poor substitute for the native language that we should be speaking and in a lot of cases there is no English word for the words that we want to use especially when it comes to our ceremonial and spiritual acts that we would like to perform. In a lot of cases they’ve pretty much been lost but due to the efforts of quite a number of people our language is being brought back. We’re currently – in Ulladulla we will be running a language program for local Aboriginal people to relearn their language and hopefully pass that on down through the younger generations so that we have a better understanding of our own culture. It’s difficult to teach people about your culture if you don’t have a full understanding of it yourself.

R:        Thank you.


R:        I’d like to throw it out to the audience, does any – oh there was a hand that went up very quickly over there.

Au:      It’s just a question about oral tradition <inaudible> 26:03 looked at as being – thanks very much. So far everything you’ve looked at is being from the written tradition, from journals, from documents, from papers, maps etc. Is there any if you like stories that have drifted in and I guess perhaps, Stella <inaudible> 26:30 might be able to comment on this because you came from a very self-contained area. The oral tradition would have lasted, might have even been started to be written down at the time of the missionaries whereas in the case of Australia you know language was lost, oral traditions were lost so was there anybody who said well look, I was there when Cook arrived and he wasn’t such a big deal, he gave us some nails and then he went away and we weren’t sure whether he was coming back. Is there anything like that that still exists within your oral tradition that perhaps may have been written down by the missionaries? And of course this may have happened in Australia but I doubt whether Lutheran missionaries would have recorded the oral history of Aboriginals because they were desperate to try and convert to another imaginary friend.

S:         Thank you. I think <inaudible> 27:31 and I guess this is just an interpretation or looking at the story. When Cook came over in one of his visits, as I mentioned before the King then was [Bow] 27:47 and there was that – there was a competition in Samoa and he wanted to have a head gear to make it different from the rest of the chiefs or probably the kings around the Pacific, those days. And he asked this man to make it and he did and he was taken by Cook back <inaudible> in the museum in Vienna. But then he was given the name to this family of <inaudible> 28:26 Tuitonga and that’s mean the comb or almost like it’s the crown for the King. Then there was no crown because after Cook came – coming over, they will start looking at the different kind of system because the kings in Tonga don’t have crowns.

But then that family keep on – it’s almost like a tradition because that family for – it’s – almost like a blessing to them for making that because the King was so high no commoner or lower-ranked person who make something for his head. But was given a blessing. The family, they are very intelligent and his descendants of that man who made that piece it’s known in Tonga for that - the children and grandchildren, they are so intelligent and smart and people just alluded to that, it was like a blessing that was given by the King ‘cause then those days, Tonga was looking at the King as the divine being until the impacts of Cook also. Then people start to realise that we are all human beings and there was those change too in how we look at that structure of a class system back home. Even if it still exist now, kings, nobility and commoners or – and then slaves, those days, was more people start to move towards that – abolishing that then slowly develop to what we have now.

And I guess that this – an impact even if it wasn’t really written of how that’s impact on the society, later on there was that liberation because even we weren’t colonised we were under the protection of the British Government but more the liberation was from that system of people being serfs and slave to our nobility and our King. And that is an impact but as I say, that’s one of the traditions that almost like it’s h<inaudible> 30:46 that most - when we say to – that’s from the [Helu] 30:51 family because they held the comb that you put in your hair, they said oh yeah, that’s the smart and intelligent family in Tonga. And people can connect a bit because they have done that part for the King and almost was a divine blessing even then.

L:         I just want to make a comment. From the journals there is no oral history that was passed down through the generations from the <inaudible> 31:29 people and it was only from the journals that we learnt that it was almost three weeks before contact was made between the <inaudible> 31:45 people and Cook. And it was initiated by our <inaudible> 31:53 people. But one of the interesting things that I’ve found written, my uncle always talked about a dreamtime story about <inaudible> 32:02 and <inaudible> who were believed – <inaudible>, being a Wallaroo and <inaudible> being a p<inaudible> and it was believed that our two ancestors came from the west to the east and they settled <inaudible> the country. But when their spirit died it travelled to the east. And it was always in the belief system of our people that our ancestors would return. And it was believed that when they returned they would be – they would have white skin and that they would come with the hand of plenty.

Now the missionaries recorded that and it was in a context where he was trying – the missionary was trying to preach about the conception and the – of a god to our people and they said oh we already know God you know we already know that. And we already know because a lot of the old folks, I remember my grandfather and older people saying we already knew about God before the missionaries came. So my point is this, that when Cook came into the Endeavour River our people would have observed them very closely, they would have observed everything they did and they would have determined by the end of those three weeks, they would have determined that these may not be our ancestors returning. So that’s when contact was made. And I found that to be very interesting because later on when the gold rush started our people - the Protector, Walter Roth, he mentions in his journals that our people were still awaiting the return of their ancestors and they were wondering why all these people coming into Cooktown and the surrounding areas you know why weren’t they recognising them as their relatives?

So in that context you know we’re still waiting for our – the return of our ancestors and they still haven’t returned. So – because there’s no-one coming you know with the hand of plenty but I thought it was very interesting. That was one thing that we sort of determined from the Cook’s journals and matching it with cultural knowledge.


R:        Did anyone else on the panel want to address that or we can go to the next question?

M:        We are an oral history people, we didn’t write too much down but if you watch Sam Neill’s show they spoke to a lady in Cooktown and spoke about song lines and explained how song lines work and she described as such, as a spider web over the whole of Australia and if you look at a spider web it starts in one side and goes all the way to the other side. So my belief is that when James Cook was off the coast of what’s known now as [Bully Point or Marmaran] 36:00 and he saw the Aboriginal people on the beach with their fire probably cooking some fish and he saw what he called pigeon house which we call [dipple] 36:12 which is our most sacred site which literally translates as breast of mother earth, our people already knew about these huge canoes with the clouds or what are sails and that would have happened through the song lines and I’m - guess the people of Cooktown would have probably had stories about these large boats with the white sails because the song lines spread from one side to the other and <inaudible> 36:42 going about that area and the things that they knew about so – I think it was Tupaia who drew the Aboriginal bloke in the canoe who was taking no notice to The Endeavour that was anchored in Botany Bay or Sydney Harbour. That’s ‘cause he already knew about it so you don’t have to write history down to know about it.

One of the strongest traditions we have in our people that’s still there is teaching our young people about who we are and who certain people are within our family, we call it who’s who in the zoo and that’s a law thing to protect against hooking up as they say today with somebody that you shouldn’t be so that still exists. And it doesn’t matter where I’ve been in Australia or New South Wales that tradition is still there and it’s not written down, it’s all up here.


R:        Is there any more questions from the audience? We had such enthusiasm before. Don’t be shy, thank you. We have a hand here in the middle.

Au:      I’m just coming down to the front ‘cause I feel much better to address everybody in accordance to our culture. [Speaks Maori] 38:29, everybody. [Speaks Maori]. So I talk about my sacred mountain on my father’s side which is [Titirungi] 39:06. I talk about the sacred river that flows through that land, [Wyo] 39:12 and all the creeks and streams that flow down to it like the veins that supplies the blood through your body. And I talk about my – the [waka] 39:21, the canoe that my ancestors travelled from [speaks Maori], the faraway place and the land of Aotearoa, the land of the long white cloud commonly known as New Zealand. And I talk about my [murai] 39:38, my ancestral house, [tantarum] 39:45 which is in a place called [Anudalum] 39:49, a beautiful place in [Tawaywo] which is in the [Kakanu] area, the Hawke’s Bay area of the North Island. That’s my fa – that’s on my father’s side.

On my mother’s side I talk about that sacred moment or [coraringa] 40:03. I talk about the [mowanfanawy] 40:10 you know the sacred river that flows through that land. [Nowata] 40:17 on my mother’s side, I talk about that. I talk about my [murai] and the beautiful lady that resided there, my ancestor, [Lumumawahini] 40:23. And an area, a settlement called Mahia which is a little settlement not far from a place called Gisborne or which was known as Turanganui a kiwa. And then when Captain Cook landed there he named it Poverty Bay ‘cause there was nothing that he wanted or needed. So a beautiful place, Mahia. I was actually born in Gisborne, Turanganui a kiwa, and I remember when I was 10 years old, 1969, they celebrated 150 years of Captain Cook landing in the bay where I was born and young Nick <inaudible> 41:15 [Tarua] 41:14 from there and from that place is where Captain Cook landed.

Now as the panel has said there’s been bit of controversy or has two sides of a story. Luckily for me I have genes in my body, I’m Maori and I’m also Irish and in jest one part of me wants to have a beer, the other part doesn’t want to pay for it. But – so I have two cultures that I know of in me and listening to the panel, they have very, very, very good points and I was sitting up there listening to everybody and I said geez, I think I’m happy that I might be able to [stand it] 42:02 sometimes and add a little bit of value, I think. And there’s a controversial side of it all as well as the panel has outlined and I acknowledge Tyrone as well for allowing – as I did last night and have always in the past, I’ve been able to come to this country and I came here for a three-week holiday in 1976. I’ve got a week to go. All my children were born here, I met my wife here, I love it here in Australia, I love it <inaudible> 42:38 New Zealand as well. I have two homes and I love being – I’m proud of who I am and where I come from.

And my grandfather <inaudible> 42:50, he’s a Pakeha, he knows – what we call an Englishman. And he married [Marquia] 42:56, prominent lady from M<inaudible> 43:01 and he grew up to love the Maori people. And he grew up that well to love the Maori people and he spoke the language. F<inaudible> 43:13, my son, he’s sitting up the back there, blue eyes and I haven’t got any of that but – so [Marquia], my elder, she found a balance between how she felt about what happened in her land and how she feels about where she is at that time. And you know we could talk about land dispossession and all sorts of things you know cultural – I’m not fluent in <inaudible> 43:39 Maori but I am competent and the result of that was when my parents were younger they were scolded or punished for speaking Maori when they were at school.

So when they met, grew up and met and had children they decided not to teach our children – their children native language ‘cause they didn’t want them to go through what they went through. And – however here I am this time of my life teaching young ones to speak their language because even though I missed out, doesn’t mean to say others should and I just wanted to add a little bit of that to the conversation. I was born in Tauranga so I grew up there and Maori are I suppose looked at as a minority but they’re very proud of who they are in that particular place and indeed all around Aotearoa. The language is – there’s a bit of a resurgence of the language because you know no matter what people still wanted to speak their language, no matter.

My parents just had a different outlook and they just wanted their children to have a – try and assimilate but when you assimilate you also hunger for what you you know what you belong to as an indigenous people. And I’m very lucky to come to another country feeling proud about who I am, where I come from and because my nieces, my nephews and other New Zealanders are not necessarily entirely New Zealanders, we have – last night <inaudible> 45:29 we had a full blood Australian girl, the tall fair girl at the back. And as I said there was a lot of different colours here so a lot of different cultures ‘cause we’ve now intermarried into other cultures but those cultures still want to know who they are and where they come from. So I just wanted to acknowledge the panel, acknowledge Susannah and everybody else here because I’ve learned so much since being involved with this exhibition and coming here and to be able to listen and I just think it’s really great so [speaks Maori].


R:        Thank you so much.

Au:      Hi and thank you all including you. I <inaudible> 46:27 intrigued by the hints of different perspectives from various panel members about the impact of Christianity that sort of followed Cook, hints of different perspectives about the impacts for good and bad of the introduction of English. Hints of different perspectives about the different impacts on different cultures on the introduction of – for want of a better word, whitefella technology, glass, beads and so on. I’m just interested particularly if any of the panel members can expand a little bit on the good and bad of the impacts of Christianity for their particular cultures?

M:        Well my great-uncle was actually a pastor on my Aboriginal side but he also had a hell of a lot of Aboriginal knowledge and he obviously passed it on as much as he could so him as an individual was able to separate because they don’t really go together, Christianity and Aboriginality, our spirituality are pretty different. But then if you read the Bible it’s actually a whole set of laws and we work under a whole set of laws, that’s how we work so in some ways they’re totally different, in some ways they’re almost like identical. But when I look at my great-uncle I can see that they can live together. I am not a Christian but my wife – and we’ve lived together for 30 years and <inaudible> 48:16. But yeah, he’s the greatest example. I don’t know whether it answers your question completely but they can live side by side because my Uncle Bob was not just a renowned elder within the community where he lived but he was for the whole coast and everyone knew who he was and he’s the first Aboriginal magistrate, first Aboriginal JP.

He lived in Jervis Bay so he was actually driven by limousine to Canberra and made a magistrate. He was the first Aboriginal mission manager so he had a lot of hats and he was – I guess that clever a man that he could separate – he could take one off and put the other hat on and he’d go to church and preach or whatever it is that pastors do in church but then he was also able to teach Aboriginal culture and hand it down to you know his kids are very cultural like they’re my cousins obviously but they’re very, very cultural. And they’re half and half as far as Christianity goes, some of them are churchgoers and some of them aren’t so – I don’t know whether that helps.

Au:      It does.

F:         For myself as a Tongan looking back at the history of Cook when he arrived in Tonga, at the time they were worshipping all sorts of gods and what they used to do when somebody got sick, they would cut the finger - there were so many of them would lose fingers. They’d cut the fingers and offer it to God, to what they believed was God then so that the sick would be healed of the illnesses would be healed. So of course the door opened up for – the missionaries came after Cook and then they introduced the Christianity and the Tongans must have had very receptive hearts because they started changing their ways and started doing things different and praying to what they believed to be the true god. And in 1875 when the Tongan constitution was written my great-grandfather was one of the five people who had witnessed and wrote the priests the constitution and that constitution was based on the Bible principles which is what we live into until now.

We have – everything is guided by the principles found in the Bible and I would say the – I guess the negative part of – I wouldn’t say negative, a lot of our people - I was talking to my son about Captain Cook and the first thing he said to me you know oh he did a lot of naughty things and he did this, he did that but for me looking back at our culture he really had a lot of influence, his arrival in Tonga had a lot of influence in our culture. And we, whether we like it or not as Tongans, we are practising it. We’re doing everything with our offerings and our culture and our gifts and our material possessions, everything was stem from that time.

F:         With – our language is <inaudible> 51:58 and it was the first language to have been documented by the first – on the first Endeavour voyage. Parkinson wrote a word list of 150 words so when the missionaries arrived, first arrived in Cooktown – that was in the late ‘80s – 1870s when our people were dispersed, dispossessed from their country, the missionaries who were going to New Guinea saw the sad state that our people were in so they set about creating a mission or an outpost for our people. Not everyone responded to the mission and not everyone came in but it did become a place where it was a haven and a refuge and the missionaries used – they learnt the language and they used the language to Christianise. And if it wasn’t for the fact that they did Christianise in the local language our language would not have survived. They not only learnt the language, they introduced a writing system. Our older people, they became very proficient in writing in English, they became very proficient in writing in language as well.

So up until world war 2 when - our people were very much Christianised and they all lived by very strong Christian principles. A<inaudible> 53:48 was a Lutheran mission and the Lutherans are very tough and it’s very – it was embedded in our whole <inaudible> 53:59 society. And it still is today but as I was saying before our people already had a belief system that was similar to Christianity, they had the same – as it was said before they had the same principles in their laws based on what the Bible said. Our people didn’t worship any particular god but there were places of sacredness that provided the necessary things for life so Christianity did have an effect on our people, the fact that one, it maintained our language. <inaudible> 54:53 is one of the – only 20 strong languages today and it was only because of the Lutheran missionaries learning it and Christianising it that it has survived today.

F:         I’ll just follow up a lot of what Dora was saying about answering the question about Christianity. I – from what I understand myself <inaudible> 55:24 in Tonga, the big influence of Christianity and it shows in education because when he was – I think wherever they start to have a church or a mission school was always established to help support that where they can use as a tool to educate people about the Bible or – and because in my village that’s where Christianity was <inaudible> 55:55. Our Chief after was calling the people together, the chiefs and said oh there is a new god being brought into the country. So he said take him to the reef and if he can stop the sea or the water, the high tide coming in then we can think twice about that guy, he – and they did, they took him to the reef and it’s well-known back home that he – John Thomas was the missionary – bring his umbrella and he kneel down and he mark it and the tide was just coming and stop before. Well that’s the story. And he was afraid and then the Chief said then bring him then, the god he brings, he must be the true god.

So they bring him and then he gave them a piece of land in our village and that is the first mission or the missionary house and it’s till up to now. And then just across there he had a school and he call it Nazareth, thinking that he name it after where Jesus grew up. So that school was the first school that established back in Tonga but that’s more to teach people about the Bible and we can see that’s the influence of Christianity. And even though it were [persecution] 57:28, people were spread out in small island but I think it’s easier because we only have one language so it’s easier for us to have that communication until George <inaudible> 57:42 the first then it was him who bring together. And for those of you who were here last night in the lounge, the kava ceremony and the movement of the kava ceremony, it’s the story because it wasn’t reported in writing or anything, some of it by John Thomas in his journal but the story, the song itself, it’s telling the story of how King George <inaudible> 58:10 the first bringing – and the north and the south of the island and bring them together and have the constitution that Dora was talking about established with the help of the missionaries and that’s how Tonga comes up to now.

So education and modernity was bringing around the time of – and then we move on from that as we all know, we move from industrial time, now we are in technology and stuff and we’re going to move on and that’s part of the evolvement of humans but we were getting to understand about more – about what’s going on in the world when the impacts of Cook and then Christianity follows, bringing us of what’s happened around the world. And there were lots of things that lost within also but there were lots of good things too that happen, especially with reporting of things. And another great impact, we are people who love to sing and dance so the Tongans are very good at singing because when Christianity came over what just transformed the use of our t<inaudible> 59:28 and our songs to appease our god or our King to God in Christianity so we have nights of singalong and dance and joy and people can just start the song and people can just speak a part and that was a big influence by Christianity and we sing together and harmonise.


M:        Hello, everyone and thank you for the <inaudible> 00:01 for coming down and introducing as well. Anyway I just – I’ve been listening quite interested about all the conversations that have gone on and one about the <inaudible> 00:15 or our language. In Aotearoa we’ve got three official languages and that is Aotearoa Maori, sign language and English so they’re our official languages so we’re lucky that we’re – that’s been recognised. And talking about history and in Maori world our history was within our heart, that was our [fakapapa] 00:36, that was our stories being told through our carving, through our [faranui] 00:42, through all these different things so that’s how our recording come until Cook came in and then the start of the writing and you know the rest is history from there.

The interesting thing about when we learnt to write, we had Maori go over to England and they brought back a printing machine and started to write their own newspaper while they didn’t like the people back in New Zealand, the Europeans, because we were suddenly having another voice, we were having our own voice. And we’ve got lovely examples of newspapers written in Aotearoa Maori of that but that was one of the impacts of giving us the ability to write, the ability to record and then we could record our own messages and get it out to our people.

Then the other thing I think we’ve been discussing about has been Christianity or religion coming into Aotearoa Maori and it’s interesting in the connection that we have, we can see some of the results of what Christianity did to our carvings. The penis for instance was chopped off all the Tonga because they saw that as being something naughty whereas for us that was about procreating. That was how we <inaudible> 1:57 so we’ve got examples in there of just the carvings, you can see that they’ve been cut.

Another example was if you had seen <inaudible> 2:06 we <inaudible> even, we greet each other so you’re exchanging your breath. In some of the carvings they’ve had the noses cut off because that was the way for the Christians – for Christianity to start breaking us down, breaking down our belief system so they put something else in place. And then we decided – I mean in history – if you go back through Maori <inaudible> 2:27 had his own religion and he based that on the Old Testament and then we had [Tekorti] 2:30 who had his own religion and – or own belief system, I don’t think they called it religion ‘cause they don’t think it is – have their own belief system so they all had followers and he had <inaudible> 2:42. And one of the basis of all of those people was they were [matikati] 2:46 or they could help heal and that was through their faith in the – from the people and then – which is how our <inaudible> 2:52, our old people back in the day, before they had priests or anything else we had people – and they still <inaudible> 3:02 everyone and they practise and the [cowa] 3:04 which is our system of belief, our [tekena] 3:07 which is our rituals and everything else were kept and <inaudible> by our <inaudible> women.

So when Christianity come along Maori were I guess clever enough to adapt what they wanted out of it but keep the belief of their own people in it. And it still runs today, we’ve still got those beliefs going on daily and that was great. For myself I was brought up in the you know I started school in the – 1959 and I was taught by nuns. I didn’t even realise I was Maori, really ‘cause there was none of that teaching getting taught in this village. My mother was like – same as the generation before, they got hit and they got whacked so they had – Mum would go to school and speak English or get hit speaking Maori and then go home to mother and her grandmother and be Aotearoa Maori. So by the time we came along it was best – and <inaudible> 3:59 best for us just to learn English and not to learn Aotearoa and so we’re that generation, it could be kind of a lost gen – of the language so – and later in my life I’m learning and I don’t think you ever stop learning and you can’t stop learning otherwise you know and when you stop learning you’re [dead, really] 4:17. I think that’s what it is.

And we have – just finally we have something we call [akiti matoronga] 4:22. Now [matoronga] is our knowledge and [akiti] is the bag we carry so as you go through life you get this knowledge and you put it into your [akiti] but you have to give it away, you have to keep giving it out to people all the time, whether it’s your little nephews or whether it’s something like we did this morning. So you know Nirmala and I are both here from Te Papa and I think we’re – Te Papa’s a world leader in that. We run a bicultural museum so bicultural in terms of Maori and European run it. And so what drives our work every day is that fact, that we are you know we are bicultural, we have our [manatonga] 5:02 <inaudible> that we talked about this morning, we have all those drivers that are in our museum systems but they’re also in our family system. Our [fano] 5:09 at home are very strong. I’ve got two nephews, three and four, who have got <inaudible> 5:15 because they go to a place called [Takunaor] 5:17 and [Takunaor] is like a pool and it’s a pool of learning for them.

So they get taught up until seven the language and all our custom so they come home to us and they do the [karikarefor] 5:27 or the prayer before they have their food every time, they take their shoes off at the door so they’re learning our ways, the ways of our people that are embedded so that when these kids get out into life and get out into that big world they have that basis, still have that core of who they are. So I think it’s important when we think of all these – the influences that Cook has had on us or had on his discoveries around the world, it’s like another colonist coming into another country and taking over but you know I think in New Zealand we were very fortunate - or Aotearoa that we signed a treaty because that’s been our redress that we’ve been able to go back on and keep who we are today and it’s still going. I mean the hurt’s still there but we’ve moved past that hurt, a lot of us have moved past that hurt and we’ve done that through art, we’ve done it through [kapahaka] 6:16, we’ve done it through all these different [fields] 6:19 on how we can actually take what they brought with us, adapted to us and then put it back out there in [tiamaru] 6:28.

R:        Thank you.


F:         I would just like to make a mention to which I didn’t mention earlier about the real effect of Christianity, it had on our people. As I mentioned when our constitution was formed in 1875 by King Tupou I and who had these nobles, the other four people were part of forming it, he actually kneeled down and picked up a handful of soil and he put it up and he gave it to God, he prayed and said this is Tonga I’m giving to you to be under your protection. So that’s how far their beliefs at the time in Christianity and that’s the impact –

F:         In our modern God and Tonga –

F:         Yeah, are my inheritance so it’s amazing but you know that’s how the impact of the - way back then, the – Cook, the missionaries had on our people.

R:        Thank you very much to all our panellists and thank you to our audience for your fantastic questions. Please join me in giving everyone here –


R:        - thank you very much. Absolutely.

F:         I believe everybody’s aware now that Cook was in – at the Endeavour River for 48 days and we welcome the opportunity for the Library to allow us to tell us our story but - I won’t elaborate too much but I do have quite a bit of information here if anybody’s interested in learning more about the history and all of the things that happened and also we’re planning a 48-day festival in 2020 which is the time that Cook was in – at the Endeavour River. And they’re themed weekends, it’s not like full-on 48 days but if you’d like to go to the Cooktown 2020 website you’ll find a lot of information there. We got a little bit of funding but all we’re waiting for is a little bit more funding to bring these events about but one of the major things that we want to do is to commemorate the little old man who first did the reconciliation with Captain Cook and we have identified the site where we believe the reconciliation took place and we want to make it into a spiritual parkland area where people can sit and just contemplate the significance of that.

And another - moving onto another significant thing is the fact that the kangaroo was first sighted at the Endeavour River too. I know a lot of people probably don’t know that but it was first sighted there and there were many other things that happened but as I said I have information if you’d like to come and see me at smoko, I’ll have a chat or I can give you some more stuff.


End of recording