First contact

See relics from early European voyages to the Pacific – a cannon from James Cook’s Endeavour and an anchor from Jean François Marie de Surville’s St Jean Baptiste. These mark the first significant contacts between Māori and Europeans.

  • When Long-term exhibition
  • Where Main entrance, Level 1 (anchor); Stairs, Level 3 (cannon)

The Endeavour cannon

Where: Stairs, Level 3



Cannon, from HMB Endeavour, circa 1750, England, by Joseph Christopher. Gift of the Australian Government, 1970. CC BY-NC-ND licence. Te Papa (DM000477)

This cannon is one of six recovered in 1969 from the Great Barrier Reef, where they were thrown overboard from Captain James Cook's ship the Endeavour in 1770.

Te Papa has significant collections of objects from Cook's voyages of discovery. This cannon was given to New Zealand by the Australian Government to mark the bicentenary of Cook's first New Zealand visit.

De Surville’s anchor

Where: On the wall inside main entrance, Level 1



Anchor, circa 1760, France, maker unknown. Gift of Mike Bearsley and Kelly Tarlton, 1974. CC BY-NC-ND licence. Te Papa (NS000047/2)

This wrought-iron anchor was made in France by unknown tradesmen around 1760. It is 4.45 metres long, 2.87 metres wide, 68 centimetres thick, and weighs 1400 kilograms.

It is one of three that were lost from the French vessel St Jean Baptiste in Doubtless Bay, Northland, in 1769. In 1974 two of the anchors were located by the undersea explorer, Kelly Tarlton, and were donated to the museum. One is now held at the Far North Regional Museum.