Scenarios of Encounter: Place, Performance, and Commemoration in in Tūranganui-a-Kiwa and London

Huw Rowlands

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Cross-cultural encounters are active processes of place making. In this thesis, commemorations and histories of cross-cultural encounter are understood as performances which may perpetuate or challenge prevailing narratives. The thesis takes as its focus the arrival of HMB Endeavour, commanded by James Cook, at Tūranganui-a-Kiwa, Aotearoa New Zealand in October 1769. A foundation for its place-based analysis is the idea of the contact zone, as used by Mary Louise Pratt in relation to encounters on the colonial frontier and by James Clifford in the context of museum-based encounters. I build on this foundation by applying Diana Taylor’s concept of scenarios to multiple historical and contemporary commemorations to better understand how cross-cultural encounters contribute to the making of places.
The relationship of the scenario of encounter to questions of place-making and memory provides the focus of the first part of the thesis. The core of the thesis comprises four case studies. Chapter 2 considers the first histories of the encounters at Tūranganui-a-Kiwa, written by the voyagers themselves, establishing their fragility, entanglement in pre-existing conventions, and their performative qualities. Three further case studies of commemorations follow, focussing on different places and forms. Chapter 3 examines commemorative events in Tūranganui-a-Kiwa Poverty Bay, Aotearoa New Zealand between 1905 and 2019, marking a series of anniversaries of the 1769 landings there. Chapter 4 analyses exhibitions marking the 250th anniversary of the Endeavour’s departure from England held in London in 2018 at key institutional sites: the British Library, the Royal Academy, and the National Maritime Museum. Finally, Chapter 5 studies a feature-length documentary film Tupaia’s Endeavour (2020), exploring the power of the medium to challenge the scenario of encounter. I take a geographical approach that focuses on commemorative place-making. I conclude that when the scenario itself is a focus there is greater potential for positive change.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Department of Geography
  • Driver, Felix, Supervisor
  • Gilbert, Helen, Advisor
Thesis sponsors
Award date1 Jun 2021
Publication statusUnpublished - 2021


  • James Cook
  • Tupaia
  • Lala Rolls
  • Tupaia's Endeavour
  • James Cook: The Voyages
  • Oceania
  • Pacific Encounters
  • Royal Academy of Arts
  • British Library
  • National Maritime Museum
  • Royal Museums Greenwich
  • Aotearoa
  • New Zealand
  • Gisborne
  • Poverty Bay
  • Tūranganui-a-Kiwa
  • London
  • Cross-cultural encounters
  • Performance Studies
  • Post-colonial studies
  • Anthropology
  • Geography
  • History
  • Historical Geography
  • Spatial History
  • Commemoration
  • Exhibitions
  • Galleries, Libraries and Museums
  • Place
  • Place and Space
  • Documentary Film
  • Indigenous Film
  • Māori
  • Pākehā
  • Pacific
  • HMB Endeavour
  • Joseph Banks
  • Michael Tuffery
  • Paul Tapsell
  • Kirk Torrance
  • Professor Dame Anne Salmond
  • Indigenous
  • Exploration
  • Pacific Voyaging
  • Pacific Islands
  • Moana
  • Te Moana-nui
  • Performance

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