250 YEARS AFTER Captain James Cook began his epic exploration of the Pacific, Sam Neill journeys in the wake, uncovering stories that resonate from those times on both sides of the beach. Visiting the islands and lands where Cook went and meeting the descendants of the people Cook met, Sam hears their stories from oral tradition. What did Cook’s arrival mean to Pacific island cultures then and now?
Across six stunning episodes without a re-enactment or fake quill in sight, Sam takes an epic and thoroughly modern look at 250 years of Pacific history. Sam begins with a disclaimer – he is merely an actor – but the story of Cook, and the impact he has had on the Pacific in the 250 years since his first voyage, has always fascinated him.
“The Pacific made Cook and it killed him too… they are forever bound together. He stitched its islands, its continental borders and its indigenous peoples into the fabric of the global community we know today. Admire him or abhor him, James Cook cannot be banished from its history even now, as peoples of the modern Pacific, we make our own history,” Sam Neill said.
The Pacific In The Wake of Captain Cook with Sam Neill
Sam Neill visits Tahiti in the first of six episodes to follow Cook’s journey around the Pacific, and hears from Tahitians about what Cook means 250 years on. Through the intercession of Joseph Banks, the expedition’s botanist, Cook takes on board the high priest and navigator Tupaia whose significance, attributes and influence will develop along the voyage but not be fully registered until the end of the Twentieth Century.
Much as Tahiti’s centrality to the settlement of Oceania by Polynesians, people of the ocean, was not fully understood till recently. Sam encounters ardent enthusiasts and practitioners of Tahiti’s vibrant culture. Some of the traditions are old, some new and when lost, he learns, the Tahitians are happy to make them up.