Story: Geological exploration

Early profile of Poverty Bay

Early profile of Poverty Bay

This is a hand-coloured engraving depicting two views of Poverty Bay, made by Sydney Parkinson, artist on Captain Cook’s first expedition (1768–71). The upper image shows Young Nick’s Head in the middle left. The coastal cliffs are made of mudstone and muddy sandstone, typical of the region, which subsequently became known as ‘papa’ (a Māori word), or ‘papa rock’.

James Cook was charged to report on the natural features and minerals of New Zealand. At the end of his voyage he summarised the observations that he and other members of his party had made:

‘Iron ore is undoubtedly to be found here particularly about Mercury bay where we found great quantities of Iron sand, however we met with no ore of any sort neither did we ever see any sort of Metal with the natives. We met with some stones in Admiralty Bay that appear'd to be Mineral in some degree, but Dr Solander was of opinion that they contain'd no sort of Metal: the white Stone we saw near the South Cape and some other parts to the Southward which I took to be a kind of Marble such as I had seen on one of the Hills I was upon in Mercury bay, Mr Banks I afterwards found was of opinion that they were Mineral to the highest degree.’

From ‘Cook’s description of places’, South Seas project

Using this item

Alexander Turnbull Library
Reference: PUBL-0037-14
Hand-coloured engraving by Sydney Parkinson

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

All images & media in this story

How to cite this page:

Simon Nathan, 'Geological exploration - Early European exploration', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 25 January 2022)

Story by Simon Nathan, published 12 Jun 2006