He was an expert navigator who drew a chart of the Pacific encompassing 2,500 miles and locating nearly 100 islands totally unknown to Europeans. This man was also a translator, an artist, a high priest, a brilliant orator, and a most devious politician. A European polymath? No, merely the greatest known Polynesian navigator of the 18th century.
Tupaia sailed with Cook from Tahiti, piloted the Endeavour across the South Pacific, and interceded on behalf of the European voyagers with the warrior Maori of New Zealand, interpreting local rituals and ceremonies. Joseph Banks, the botanist with Cook's expedition, is famous for describing the manners and customs of the natives, but much of the credit rightfully belongs to Tupaia. Indeed, he could aptly be called the Pacific's first anthropologist.
Despite all this, Tupaia's colorful tale has never been part of the popular Captain Cook legend. This prize-winning book tells the true story of how Tupaia's contributions changed the history of the Pacific.
FIRST ILLUSTRATED DIGITAL EDITION