What does James Cook mean to us now?
In August 2017, a statue of James Cook in Sydney’s Hyde Park was defaced amid demands that its inscription be changed, prompting intense debate about celebration and dispossession. Why is Cook such a controversial figure? Anne Salmond, Ahilapalapa Rands and Selina Tusitala Marsh discuss Cook’s social, environmental and cultural legacy. Chaired by Carl Bridge.
Dame Anne Salmond is Distinguished Professor of Maori Studies and Anthropology at the University of Auckland. She has written a number of award-winning books, including The Trial of the Cannibal Dog: Captain Cook in the South Seas and Aphrodite’s Island: The European Discovery of Tahiti, that examine James Cook’s Pacific explorations, and won many literary prizes including the Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement. Her latest book, Tears of Rangi: Experiments across Worlds, has just been released. She has been elected as a Foreign Associate of the National Academy of Sciences in the US and a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy. In 2013 she was awarded the Rutherford Medal, New Zealand’s top scientific award, and selected as New Zealander of the Year.
Ahilapalapa Rands (Kanaka Maoli/Indigenous Hawaiian, iTaukei/Indigenous Fijian, Pākehā/Settler European) is an independent curator, writer and artist. She holds a Bachelor of Visual Arts from Auckland University of Technology and a Diploma in Te Reo Māori from Te Wananga o Raukawa in Ōtaki, Aotearoa. Rands is a member of art collective D.A.N.C.E. art club alongside Vaimaila Urale, Tuafale Tanoa’i aka Linda T, and Chris Fitzgerald. Since forming D.A.N.C.E. in 2008 the members continue to utilise the club as a testing space for identifying and pushing against restrictive and exclusionary definitions of what art can be. With a collaborative curatorial approach, D.A.N.C.E. events incorporate installations, music, performance, and food sharing, reimagining the social dynamic as a creative and transgressive platform.
Selina Tusitala Marsh is a Pasifika poet-scholar and is the current New Zealand Poet Laureate (2017-2019). As the 2016 Commonwealth Poet she wrote and performed a poem for Queen Elizabeth II at Westminster Abbey. Her first collection, Fast Talking PI (2009), won the Jesse Mckay Best First Book in the New Zealand Book Awards, her second collection, Dark Sparring (2013) was critically acclaimed and positioned her in 'the vanguard of contemporary Pacific Literature' and 'one of the most important poetic voices of her generation' (Edmeades 2013), while a third collection of poetry, Tightrope (2017) is forthcoming from Auckland University Press. An Associate Professor in the English Department at the University of Auckland, Selina teaches New Zealand and Pacific Literature, convenes its largest course in Creative Writing, and supervises poets in its Masters of Creative Writing Programme. Her service and leadership work engages diverse communities across multiple spaces through educational bridging programmes and national leadership programmes that involve corporate, government, and non-government organisations. Selina has led over 100 workshops for community and professional groups, spoken and mentored at over 40 schools and is in demand as a keynote speaker and performer. She delivered the prestigious annual New Zealand Book Council lecture for 2016, was made Honorary Literary Fellow in the New Zealand Society of Authors’ annual Waitangi Day Honours for 2017, and recently hosted an event with former President Barack Obama.
Image: from Drawings, in Indian ink, illustrative of Capt. Cook's first voyage, 1768 -1770, chiefly relating to Otaheite and New Zealand, by A Buchan, John F Miller, and others.
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