Captain Cook and the European Discovery of Australia, New Zealand and Hawaii

History Storytime - For Kids

Jan 10 2022 • 9 mins

Sophie (age 8) and Ellie (age 6) tell the story of the great explorer Captain Cook who was the first European to discover Australia, New Zealand and Hawaii.----more---- Before we even start our episode Sophie and Ellie point out that there were already people living there who did not need to be discovered as they had their own cultures, languages and homes. However, we decide to tell the story anyway as Captain Cook was still a great explorer .

James Cook was born 300 years ago in Britain. Britain was a powerful country who got rich through trading and from her colonies. James Cook was born into a poor family. When he was 16 he went to become a grocer. The grocer’s was by the sea and James used to look out the sea and wonder what it would be like to be a sailor. After a year and a half he went to sea himself. He became a sailor on a ship which carried coal from Newcastle to London. It was a boring sailing job. However, James Cook spent his time learning all the mathematics that you needed to be a good sailor.

Then war broke out between Britain and France. James decided he wanted a life of adventure so he joined the navy. He had to start at the bottom. However, the navy soon realized that he knew a lot about sailing and was good at maths. He was put in charge of the sailing on a warship. Britain and France were fighting to see who would rule Canada. The British decided to sail their navy up a river in Canada to attack the French. The French thought this was impossible. However, they had not reckoned with James Cook. He mapped the river and found out where it was safe for the British fleet to sail without hitting the rocks. The British found the French, defeated them and conquered Canada.

The British admirals now realized that James Cook was a very clever man.

After peace came they made him captain of his own ship and sent him to the Pacific. They told him that his job was to look at Venus from there. However, when he arrived he opened secret orders. Actually he job was to explore the islands and in particular to find the mythical land called Terra Australis – which we now call Australia.

Captain Cook got very lucky because he met a local person called Tapaia. He knew the area very well and was a good sailor. Together they went exploring.

The first place that Captain Cook found was what we now called New Zealand. There were people already there called the Maori. Then he carried on sailing and found what we now call Australia. There were other people living there who we sometimes called Aboriginal people.

When he got back to Britain everyone was amazed. He was treated like a hero.

He was sent out again to find more of Australia. This time he found lots of islands that he claimed for Britain.

Then he was sent out a third time. This time he sailed to Hawaii and from there he went to the top of North America to what we now call Alaska. Up in the Arctic he tried to find a way to the Atlantic through the ice. He was not successful and sailed back to Hawaii.

There he had an argument with the local King and was killed on the beach.

Still today though he is remembered as one of the greatest ever explorers.


Next week we are going to tell the story of the First Fleet. This is the fleet which first took Europeans to colonise and settle in Australia.  This episode will be exclusively available on our Patrons’ Club. Then the week after we will have another free episode available. You can join at