Cook weighed anchor on the 30th of January, and took up his station at his usual point in Queen Charlotte's Strait. The vessels were soon surrounded by pirogues, but not a single native ventured to go on board, they were so fully persuaded that the English had come to avenge their murdered comrades. Once convinced that the English had no such intention, they banished their mistrust and reserve. The captain soon found out by Mai's interpretation (he understanding the Zealand tongue) the right cause of this terrible catastrophe.

It appeared that the English had been seated on the grass, taking their evening meal when the natives committed several thefts. One of them was caught and struck by a sailor. At his cry, his companions rushed upon the sailors of the Adventure, who killed two of them, but unfortunately succumbed to numbers. Several of the Zealanders pointed out to Cook the chief who had directed the carnage, and urged Cook to kill him. But to the great surprise of the natives and the stupefaction of Mai, the captain refused.

Mai remarked, "In England they kill a man who assassinates another; this fellow killed ten, and you take no revenge!"

Before he left, Cook landed pigs and goats, hoping that these animals might at length become acclimatized to New Zealand.

Mai had a wish to take a New Zealander to Tahiti. Two offered to go, and Cook agreed to receive them, warning them at the same time that they would never see their native land again. But no sooner had the vessels lost sight of the shores of New Zealand than they began to weep. Sea-sickness added to their distress. But as they recovered from it their sadness disappeared, and they soon attached themselves to their new friends.

An island named Mangea was discovered on the 29th of March. At Mai's representations the inhabitants decided to come on board. Small, but vigorous and well-proportioned, they wore their hair knotted upon the top of the head. They wore long beards, and were tatooed in all parts of their bodies. Cook could not carry out his earnest wish to land, as the people were too hostile.

A new island, similar to the last, was discovered four leagues further on. The natives appeared more friendly than those of Mangea, and Cook profited by this fact, and landed a detachment under Lieutenant Gore, with Mai as interpreter. Anderson, the naturalist, an officer named Barnes, and Mai landed alone and unarmed, running the risk of being maltreated.

They were received with solemnity, and conducted through a crowd of men, with clubs on their shoulders, to the presence of three chiefs, whose ears were adorned with red feathers. They soon perceived a score of women, who danced in a grave and serious fashion, paying no attention to their arrival.

The officers were separated from each other, and observing that the natives hastened to empty their pockets, they began to entertain fears for their safety, when Mai reappeared. They were detained all day, and forced several times to take their clothes off, and allow the natives to examine the colour of their skin; but night arrived at last, without the occurrence of any disagreeable incident. The visitors regained their sloop, and cocoa-nuts, bananas, and other provisions were brought to them.

The English may have owed their safety to the description Mai had given of the power of their weapons, and the experiment he made before them of setting fire to a cartridge.

Mai had recognized three of his fellow-countrymen in the crowd on the beach.

These Tahitans had started in a pirogue to reach Ulitea Island, and had been driven out of their course by contrary winds. As they expected a short voyage, they had not provided themselves with food. Famine and fatigue had reduced their number to four men, all of them half dead, when the pirogue capsized. The unfortunate wretches managed to seize the side of their boat and support themselves in the water until they were picked up by the inhabitants of this island, Wateroo. It was now twelve years since fate threw them upon this shore, more than two hundred leagues from their native island. They had contracted family ties and friendly alliances with these people, whose manners and language were not unlike their own. They refused to return to Tahiti.

Cook says, "We may find in this incident a better explanation of the way in which detached portions of the globe, and particularly the islands of the Pacific, have been peopled, than in any theories; especially in regard to those which are far from any other continent, and at a great distance from each other."

Wateroo Island is situated in 20° 1' south latitude, and 201° 45' east longitude.

The two vessels afterwards reached a neighbouring island called Wenooa, upon which M. Gore landed to get fodder. Although the ruins of houses and tents were seen, it was uninhabited.

On the 5th of April, Cook arrived in sight of Harvey Island, which he had discovered during his second voyage in 1773. At that time it appeared to him deserted. He was, therefore, astonished to see several pirogues leave the shore and approach the ships. But the natives could not find courage to go on board.

Their fierce appearance and noisy offers did not promise well for their friendly intentions.

Their language was still more like that of Tahiti, than that of the last islands they had visited.

Lieutenant King was sent in search of good anchorage, but could not succeed in finding a suitable harbour. The natives, armed with spears and clubs, appeared disposed to resent any attempt at landing.