Voyage to Aotearoa: Tupaia and the Endeavour opens Friday 13 September 2019 and runs until Sunday 15th March 2020 part of the nationwide Tuia 250 commemoration and supported by funding from the New Zealand Lottery Grants Board Te Puna Tahua.

Tāmaki Paenga Hira Auckland War Memorial Museum is marking 250 years since the first onshore meetings between Māori and Europeans during HMB Endeavour's 1769 voyage to Aotearoa New Zealand, with a new special exhibition opening on Friday 13 September.


Enter the world of Tupaia, Tahitian high priest, navigator, and artist. Go back in time to 1769 and journey with him on Captain Cook’s Endeavour from Tahiti to Aotearoa. Learn about the critical role Tupaia played in our history as he acted as translator and mediator for both Europeans and tangata whenua on this voyage.

Jump on board this Pacific adventure where you can sail a va’a around the Society Islands, experience life as a sailor, and the charting of the coastline of Aotearoa.


This interactive family exhibition tells the story of Captain James Cook’s first voyage to Aotearoa, with a focus on the Tahitian Endeavour voyager, Tupaia.

In Tahiti, visitors will be introduced to Tupaia the Arioi (high priest), experience what everyday life was like in Tahiti in 1768 and learn about the Endeavour’s time there with Tupaia.

Interactives bring Tupaia’s paintings to life with movement and song; allow visitors to navigate their va’a in the Society Islands; and watch the Endeavour’s route unfold around Aotearoa.

Moving through the exhibition, visitors can experience the mess hall of the Endeavour, see how sailors ate and slept on the ship and even jump in a hammock and try on clothes of the time. A series of dioramas give a glimpse into life on the ship, and Joseph Banks’s (British naturalist and scientific leader of expedition) quarters shows the Endeavour as a research vessel, with a selection of original plant specimens collected in Aotearoa in 1769-70 on display.


Finally, arriving in Aotearoa, we engage with the first onshore meetings between Māori and British, Tupaia’s relationships with Māori, and his role as cultural broker.

From objects such as taame, va’a and ahufara, to illustrative plates and black and white etchings from Banks’s Florilegium publication to bird mounts, fish and bird skins, and shells, the objects explore key moments in the story and reflect the world of Tahiti and Aotearoa in 1769.

OPENS FRI 13 SEP 2019 – 15 MAR 2020