Author(s): Joan Druett
Tupaia, could aptly be called the Machiavelli of Tahiti. Being highly skilled in astronomy, navigation, and meteorology, and an expert in the geography of the Pacific, he was able to name directional stars and predict landfalls and weather throughout the voyage from Tahiti to Java. Though he had no previous knowledge of writing or mapmaking, Tupaia drew a chart of the Pacific that encompassed every major group in Polynesia and extended more than 4,000 kilometres from the Marquesas to Rotuma and Fiji. Not only did Tupaia become one of Captain Cook's important artists, drawing lively pictures to illustrate what he described, but he could justly be called the Pacific's first anthropologist. Despite all this, Tupaia has never been part of the popular Captain Cook legend. This is largely because he died of complications from scurvy seven months before the expedition arrived home.
Shortlisted for PANZ Book Design Awards: Best Cover 2012 and PANZ Book Design Awards: Non-Illustrated Book 2012 and New Zealand Post Book Awards: General Non-Fiction 2012.
Joan Druett is an independent maritime historian and writer associated with the Stout Research Centre for New Zealand Studies, Wellington. She had published many award-winning maritime studies, including In the Wake of Madness (2003) and Island of the Lost (2007), and is also the author of the popular Wiki Coffin mystery series.