Sir Joseph Bank’s journal and account of New Zealand

By Grant Jacobs 25/05/2014

Readers interested in historic scientific voyages and New Zealand history might like to know that Sir Joseph Bank’s journals of 25 August 1768 — 12 July 1771 aboard the HMS Endeavour under the command of Lieutenant James Cook are available on line from the University of Sydney Australia Digital Collections website.

This voyage observed the Transit of Venus (3 June 1769) and undertook geographical and natural history observation (including a search for the southern continent). According to the notes the natural history observation aspect to the voyage was an innovation “inspired, financed and directed by the 25 year old Joseph Banks.”

These journals include accounts of several islands, including a long account of New Zealand from their circumnavigation in 1770.

You can view the journal either as a web page or a PDF file. I find the latter more readable, but I wish they’d put the many-pages long series contents as an appendix rather than before to the body text. After reading the introduction, skip to page 26!

There are no accompanying illustrations or marginalia (e.g. explanations of irregular spelling, terms of the day, common names for species and so on) but the text makes for interesting reading.

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