The murderous legacy of Captain Cook

Captain Cook arrived in New Zealand exactly 250 years ago, leading the first European fleet to reach its shores. New Zealand is marking the anniversary in a big way, but Maori activist Tina Ngata says there is little to celebrate. She says Maori people are disproportionately poor, in jail and discriminated against— and all this has its roots in New Zealand’s colonial past.

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  1. Imagine being among the first Maori to see Cook’s ship Endeavour arriving on your island. Is the ship a floating island or a giant bird? Who are the men on board, in their strange clothing, with their carts and horses? Write a one-page description of what you see, hear and feel.
  2. Research Captain James Cook. Write a list of his contributions to science and exploration, alongside a list of the deaths and destruction he caused. Overall, should he be remembered as a hero or a villain?