The Endeavour departed Plymouth on 26 August 1768, carrying 94 people and 18 months of provisions under the command of Lt James Cook. Livestock on board included pigs, poultry, two greyhounds and a milking goat.

She reached Tahiti on 10 April 1769, where she remained for the next three months. The transit of Venus across the Sun occurred on 3 June, and was observed and recorded by astronomer Charles Green from Endeavour’s deck.

The transit observed, Endeavour departed Tahiti on 13 July and headed northwest to allow Cook to survey and name the Society Islands. Landfall was made at Huahine, Raiatea and Borabora, providing opportunities for Cook to claim each of them as British territories. On 15 August, Endeavour finally turned south to explore the open ocean for Terra Australis Incognita.

In October 1769, Endeavour reached the coastline of New Zealand, becoming the first European vessel to do so since Abel Tasman’s Heemskerck in 1642. Unfamiliar with such ships, the Māori people at Cook’s first landing point in Poverty Bay thought the ship was a floating island, or a gigantic bird from their mythical homeland of Hawaiki.

In Tahiti, a Polynesian navigator high priest Tupaia asked to join the voyage. His presence on board this ship provided a vital role as his language was sufficiently similar to Maori living in Aotearoa to provide a translation. He was also able to provide cultural interpretation.

Their arrival marked the first meetings between Māori and Pākehā. 2019 marks the 250th anniversary of these first meetings.