Russell Duncan was a photographer and explorer who was primarily interested in researching Captain Cook’s voyages to New Zealand. He embarked on several expeditions that retraced Captain Cook’s voyages. In 1902 he travelled around Queen Charlotte Sound and presented his findings in an informative lecture for the Hawke’s Bay Philosophical Institute that same year. Then, in 1910 Duncan headed a month-long expedition around the Dusky Sound with Mr Walter McCarthy, a geologist, and Mr F. G. Smith, a naturalist. The aim for this trip was to find the locations described by Captain Cook during his voyage in the Dusky Sounds and to chart the locations’ historical associations. The photographic album containing 53 albumen prints in the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki’s collection is the product of this 1910 trip. The photographs document the group’s trip to Pickersgill Harbour, Cascade Cove, Sportsman’s Cove on Cooper Island, Supper Cove, the Seaforth River, Facile Harbour, and the wreck of the old Endeavour.
Duncan's interest in Captain Cook was part of a wider contextual movement in New Zealand at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries in which the stories of Captain Cook’s voyages were celebrated to construct a sense of history and national identity particular to colonial New Zealand.
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