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The Discovery of Norfolk Island

Britain was losing the War of Independence with the North American Colonies at the time that Captain James Cook, of the British Royal Navy, was making his second round the world journey. Sailing the ship "Resolution" from New Caledonia to New Zealand Cook came across the island on the morning of October 10, 1774.

Cook circumnavigated the island's 20 mile coastline and put two boats ashore on October 11. These were the first white men to stand on the island; archaeological findings suggest that it had previously been used as a stopover for sea-roving Polynesians.

Those who went ashore noted the abundance of pine and flax: two materials of which Britain was in dire need in order to provide masts and sails for her ships while in southern latitudes. The landing party also made detailed descriptions of the island's plant and bird life, and was so enraptured by the island's beauty that Cook described it as "Paradise" - an accolade he had never awarded during his previous travels.

Finding the island uninhabited, Cook claimed it for England and named it Norfolk Island in honour of the ninth Duchess of Norfolk, one of his patrons.


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