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New Zealand Arapawa Goat Association

New Zealand Arapawa Goat Association

(Incorporating the International Arapawa Goat Association)


Arapawa Goat Timeline

Alison Sutherland

Watercolour by Thomas Hearne
Aboard the Deal Castle 1775 (National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, UK)

There is strong evidence that the first goats introduced into New Zealand are likely to be among those animals gifted by King George III “intended for New Zealand ... where there was a prospect that the leaving of some of them might prove usefull to posterity.” (Edwards 1999: 440) and delivered by Captain James Cook on his voyages to the South Pacific. It is clear, through Cook’s journals that the intent behind the introduction of poultry and animals such as the goat, sheep, cattle and pigs was for the benefit of the people of New Zealand [5 November 1773]. It was the assumption of these 18th century European explorers – based on the exploration of small areas of land over a limited period of time – that other than the native rats and Maori dogs no other four-legged animals (quadrupeds) existed in New Zealand [3 June 1773]. That the goats, in particular, were foreign to the indigenous people of New Zealand is evidenced by Cook’s description of the reaction of the young Maori woman when she first saw the goat [19 April 1773].

Assuming that the first New Zealand goats were indeed introduced by Cook, what are their origins? We know that Arapawa goats resemble the description of the old English Milch goat and the goat Captain Cook carried on board the Endeavour was a Milch goat [29 July 1771]. We also know that goats, along with other stock, were loaded on board the H.M.S. Resolution at Cape Verde Islands and Cape Town. However recent DNA evidence clearly demonstrates that the Arapawa goat is unrelated to those goats currently on these islands. Anecdotal evidence suggests that, unlike the other animals, the male and female goats were not segregated on board ship and breeding occurred (see the notes below of ‘Old Will’ the ram goat roaming free and kids being born on-route).

Cook’s first voyage to New Zealand
The primary purpose behind Cook’s first sailing to the South Pacific was supposedly to observe the transit of Venus. Villiers (1967) disputes this: “...their ‘yarn’ about sailing to the Pacific to "observe the transit of Venus across the disk of the Sun" at some unheard-of island was regarded as a yarn indeed. Which, of course, it was: prior rights of discovery and flag-raising in Terra Australia was the real objective.” (p 103). Whatever the motive, for the purpose of this research, it is the relationship between Captain James Cook’s journeys and the origins of the present day New Zealand Arapawa goat that is of significance and will remain the focus throughout. There is evidence that a goat travelled on the Endeavour with Captain James Cook:
“While the Endeavour was fitting out, Wallis returned from the second Dolphin voyage. ... The Dolphin made other useful contributions, including several officers, petty officers and seamen, and a handsome goat said to be quite a ‘sea-dog’ and a good milker. This unusual goat had already survived one circum-navigation: now it was to make another. Many goats went to sea in those days aboard Indiamen and the like, but the Dolphin’s was the only circumnavigator.” (Villiers 1967: 86). That goats on board sailing ships were routine is depicted in Hearne’s 1775 watercolour of the quarter-deck on the Deal Castle (shown above, courtesy National Maritime Museum, UK. See also Salmond 1991: 103).
26 August 1768 “The goat from the Dolphin, perhaps realising that she was off on another circumnavigation, bleated forlornly. Too experienced an old goat to get in the way on sailing day, the Endeavour’s small decks bothered her for she did not know where to go, so she got under the shelter of the long boat and lay down.” (Villiers 1967: 87)
30 August 1768 The Endeavour faces a storm where poultry and a boat are lost (Dickinson 2011): “The ship’s cats, Mr Bank’s dogs, and the wise old goat berthed themselves in a dry corner of the lower deck, out of the way, and survived. Dry corners, indeed, were scarce: for the upper works leaked and required more caulking, which could not be done at sea. But the goat soon learned her way about.” (Villiers 1967: 91)
At sea “The seamen, when they could, fished overside industriously. But oxen could get scurvy too, or at any rate thin down to uselessness without it, and sheep took poorly to sea life. This left hens, hogs, and goats: in good weather the poultry prospered. The goats prospered always.” (Villiers 1967: 99)
On reaching Tahiti “... the old goat from the Dolphin looked enviously at the greenery ashore. The goat, indeed, was carefully tethered, for the moment, to keep her out of the way, and also, perhaps, to stop her butting people of importance as they came aboard. Perhaps annoyed at the surly reception of the Dolphin two years before, the goat had then distinguished herself by charging the hind-quarters of the first Tahitian to come over the rail and knocking him overboard, whereat all the other Tahitians paddled away as furiously as they could. A goat was a new beast to them. Now they could see the old reprobate secured on deck, and they watched her warily. The Chief Owha’a, braving the goat’s anger, came up the side ladder as chief of the welcoming committee, all smiles.” (Villiers 1967: 116)
13 July 1769 On the Endeavour leaving Tahiti:
“Even the goat from the Dolphin, which had enjoyed the life ashore (and very probably also the power of terrorising the natives with a glare from those baleful eyes and a toss of her twisted horns) was comfortable again on the hard deck in the lee of the longboat.” (Villiers 1967: 125)
23 January 1770 Having first set foot on New Zealand soil on 9th October 1769, and anchoring in Ships Cove in Queen Charlotte Sounds on 16th January 1770, accompanied by a seaman Cook explores the north-west side of Arapawa Island and climbs the hill; below him lies Tory Channel:
“I was abundantly recompenced for the trouble I had in assending the hill, for from it I saw what I took to be the Eastern Sea and a strait or passage from it into the Western Sea a little to the Eastward of the entrance of the Inlet in which we now lay with the Ship ...” (Beaglehole 1955: 238)
24 January 1770 That Cook had animals on board the Endeavour on his first voyage to New Zealand is evidenced by this journal entry:
“the Long-boat was sent with a gang of hands to one of the Islands to cut grass for our sheep ...”
While not identifying goats specifically, we know that there was at least one nanny goat on board and can assume that the collected grass would be offered to her. This is confirmed by Bank’s reference below:
2 October 1770 Banks refers to a goat on board when referring to feeding buffalo:
“during their stay on board had not had more victuals than any one of them could have eat in a day and that the remainder of some bad hay which the goat had dungd upon time immemorial almost.”
14 April 1771 On their return home to England, Banks observed that there were an abundance of goats available in Cape Town:
“Here are goats, but they are never eaten,” (Hawkesworth 1773: 787)
Mid June 1771 (The Endeavour is on her way home to England and is being cleaned at the Cape of Good Hope in preparation for the final passage to the Channel and home): “... the remnants of the livestock scraped from the fore-deck though a few sheep from the Cape survived there a while longer and the old goat from the Dolphin still prospered.” (Villiers 1967: 146)
13 July 1771 “She anchored in the Downs. It was Saturday, July 13, 1771. There were fifty-six men and boys aboard of the ninety-four who had left England almost three years earlier – fifty-six men and, of course, the indestructible old goat from the Dolphin, the first goat in history to survive two circumnavigations.” (Villiers 1967: 168)
29 July 1771 On their return to the UK the following newspaper extract in the General Evening Post (possibly written by Cook) clearly confirms the presence of a goat on the Endeavour:
“Before I conclude, I must not omit how highly we have been indepted to a milch goat: she was three years in the West Indies, and was once round the world before in the Dolphin, and never went dry the whole time; we mean to reward her services in a good English pasture for life.” (Beaglehole 1955: 649)
In England Dr Johnson’s efforts were confined to the production of an epigram* (see below) for the famous circumnavigating goat, which was honourably retired to a rich pasture – a better fate than that of many of the old seamen. (Hawkesworth 1773: 787)
28 March 1772 The goat that sailed the world with Captain Cook dies. (Beaglehole 1974: 291).

Given that Cook did not survive after his third voyage to New Zealand and that it was Banks and Solander who later sought recognition for the little goat who sailed with them on the Endeavour, one can only surmise that she was a favourite, not only with Cook, but also the crew. Clearly the Old English goat was a highly respected and appreciated participant in Cook’s inaugural voyage to New Zealand is evidenced in Beaglehole’s (1955: cxxxiii) introduction:

“Here no doubt should also be mentioned, as a valuable member of the ship’s company, the goat. It was a goat that had been round the world with Wallis, and it was transferred to Cook so that South Sea coffee should still have its milk. It finds no place in the official documents, but Banks and Solander enlarged upon it to the Lexicographer, and asked him for a motto; and the great man obliged.”

‘Perpetua ambita bis terra praemia lactis
Haec habet altrici Capra secunda Jovis.’

‘Thus translated by a friend,’ adds Boswell:

‘In fame scarce second to the nurse of Jove,
This Goat, who twice the world had traversed round,
Deserving both her master’s care and love,
Ease and perpetual pasture now has found.’

In 1912, Albert William Macy published the following report on “A Much Traveled Goat” in his book Curious Bits of History:
“About the year 1772 there died at Mile End, England, a well informed goat, if traveling and seeing the world would make it so. It twice circumnavigated the globe; first in the discovery ship Dolphin, with Captain Wallis, and afterward in the ship Endeavorer, commanded by the celebrated Captain Cook. The Dolphin sailed from England August 22, 1766, and returned May 20, 1768. It visited many lands, including numerous islands of the Pacific, on this voyage. The goat did not remain ashore very long, for the Endeavorer sailed from Plymouth August 25, 1768. The vessel touched at Maderia, doubled Cape Horn, spent six months along the coast of New Zealand, and visited many other strange countries. It got back to England June 12, 1771. In the three years Cook lost thirty of his eighty-five men, but the goat returned in apparent good health. Arrangements were made to admit her to the privileges of one of the government homes for sailors, but she did not live to enjoy them. She wore a silver collar, with a Latin inscription prepared by Dr Samuel Johnson.” (p 79).

The significance of Cook’s first voyage to New Zealand, in relation to the present day Arapawa goats, was the value he saw in the Old English Milch goat that sailed with him, depicted by the fact that “she ended her days living at his family home in Yorkshire.” (Backhouse 2014: 96), as well as his exploration of Arapawa Island (perhaps identifying it then as a suitable site for introduced livestock to survive and flourish), the recognition of a scarcity of animals on New Zealand shores, and observing an abundance of goats at Cape Town on his return to England.

Cook’s second voyage to New Zealand
According to the history books, the main objective of Cook’s second voyage was to circumnavigate the world as far south as possible in search of the Great Southern Land. For the purpose of this research, the significance of Cook’s second voyage, this time on the Resolution, was his introduction of goats into New Zealand and the secreting of goats onto Arapawa Island in particular.
13 July 1772 The following description given by Villiers clearly illustrates the presence of goats on board ‘Resolution’ and the accompanying ‘Adventure’ at the time they set sail from England, on Cook’s second voyage to New Zealand.
“Both ships carried livestock – a small bullock or two, sheep, goats, hogs, poultry including geese – but the numbers are not given. Bullocks were quickly slaughtered and fodder for sheep could be carried only in small quantities, but the real trouble with livestock was their high consumption of fresh water.” (p 162) ... “The Resolution slipped out of Plymouth Sound early on the morning of July 13, 1772, with an accompaniment of bellowing bullocks, grunting hogs, cackling fowls, and gutteral goats and the bewildered sheep scampering for foothold in their pens. All these were customery shipboard sounds, proper at a ship’s sailing.” (p 164).
Thursday 13 August 1772 On his second voyage to New Zealand, Cook reports purchasing livestock, including goats when at the Cape Verde Islands:
“Governor General of the Cape de Verd Isles happened to be here at this time, he as well as the Governor or commander of the fort promised that I should be supplied with everything I wanted and the next day bullocks and other things should be brought out of the country for us; accordingly in the morning I sent a person ashore with money to purchase bullocks for the two sloops, ... In the evening we received on board one bullock, some Hogs, Goats and fruits. at the same time a message came from the general acquainting me that as the Bullocks etc were far in the country , the time was too short to drive them to town, but if I would wait tomorrow I might depend on having them. ... I readily acquiesced. ... Trade continued briskly, not a boat returned to the sloops without Hogs, goats, fowls and fruits.” (Cook 1772)
Friday 14 August 1772 “In the evening we received on board one Bullock which was kill’d the next Morning and weig’d 270 pounds, some Hoggs, Goats and fruits were brought on board at the same time, but in no great plenty.” (Beaglehole 1961: 27)
“The extreme scarcity of refreshments made our stay at Porto-Praya very short. We were therefore obliged to content ourselves with a few casks of brackish water, a single bullock, a few long-legged goats, with strait horns and pendulous ears, some lean hogs, turkies, and fowls, and a few hundreds of unripe oranges, and indifferent bananas.” (Forster 2000: 37)
August 1772 While goats were brought on board as stock at Cape Verde Islands, an incident occurred there that clearly demonstrates the presence of ‘ships goats’ that could only have come from England:
The Resolution carried on board some casks of beer brewed with essence of malt. The beer was fermenting and the casks were obviously under great pressure and bursting at the seams, so the barrels were brought on deck and the bungs were removed. There was an explosion like that of a small fowling piece and, to the dismay of the sailors, the precious beer ran out all over the deck. Their dismay was offset by the delight of the ship’s goats, which started licking greedily at the desk and were soon staggering around in a drunken stupor. (Aughton 2004:34; see also Forster 1982:150)
March 1773 – At sea Johann Reinhold Forster described how some animals survived the ice and cold on their voyage to New Zealand. He also gives us an indication of the minimum number of goats on board Resolution:
“no more convenient place could be devised than the space between my and the Masters Cabin. I was now beset with cattle & stench on both Sides, having no other but a thin deal partition full of chinks between me & them. The room offered me by Capt Cook, & which the Masters obstinacy deprived me of, was now given to very peaceably bleating creatures, who on a stage raised up as high as my bed, shit and pissed on one side, while 5 goats did the same afore on the other side.” (Forster 1773: 233)
Sunday 28 March 1773 In Dusky Sound - at Cascade Cove:
“The few sheep and goats we had left were not likely to fair quite so well here being neither pasture nor grass to eat but what is course and harsh, nevertheless we were surpprised to find that they would not eat it as they had not tasted either grass or hay for these many Weeks past, nor did they seem over fond of the leaves of more tender plants and shrubs, upon examination we found their teeth loose and that many of them had every symptom of an inveterate Sea Scurvey.” (Beaglehole 1961: 112)
Monday 19 April 1773 “In the PM the family of the natives before mentioned made us a nother Viset and in the morning the Chief and his Daughter were induced to come on board while the rest of the family went out in the Canoe afishing, before they came on board I shew’d them the Sheep and Goats which they viewed for a moment with a kind of stupid insensibility, after this I conducted them to the brow” ... [where the chief struck the ship’s side with the branch]. (Beaglehole 1961: 122)
“In the morning, the man resolved to come on board with the young woman, but sent the rest of his family a-fishing in the canoe. He walked with her round the cove, to the place where we had made a stage or temporary bridge from the vessel to the shore. Before they entered upon this, they were conducted to a place on the hill, where we kept our sheep and goats, which they seemed to be much surprised with, and desired to possess; but as we foresaw that they must die for want of proper food if we left them here, we could not comply with this request.” (Forster 2000: 97)
23 May 1773 Cook notes in his journal when anchored in Queen Charlotte Sounds “[Maori] were even more delighted with a gift of breeding hogs and goats, provided by pooling the livestock of both ships.” This implies that Ferneaux also had goats on board the Adventure.
Wednesday 2 June 1773 Cook et al put goats on Arapawa Island, unbeknownst to Maori, with the intent of their survival and propagation:
“This Morning I went over to the East side of the Sound accompanied by Captain Furneaux and Mr Forster, there I put a Shore two Goats male and female, the latter was old but had two fine Kids, some time before we arrived in Dusky Bay, which were both kill’d by the cold as I have already mentioned, the male was something more than twelve months old: Captain Furneaux hath put a Shore in Canibals Cove a Boar and a Breeding Sow so that we have reason to hope that in process of time this Country will be stocked with Goats and Hoggs; there is no great danger that the Natives will destroy them as they are exceedingly afraid of both, besides as they have not the least knowlidge of them being left, they will grow so Wild before they are discovered as not to suffer any one to come near them. The Goats will undoubtedly take to the Mountains and the Hoggs to the Woods where there is plenty of food for both.” (Beaglehole 1961: 169)
“The next morning we accompanied the captains Cook and Furneaux to East Bay, and Grass Cove, where they intended to collect a load of antiscorbutic greens. We had not only endeavoured to leave useful European roots in this country, but we were likewise attentive to stock its wilds with animals, which in time might become beneficial to the natives, and to future generations of navigators. To this purpose captain Furneaux had already sent a boar and two sows to Canibal Cove, where they had been turned into the woods to range at their own pleasure; and we now deprived ourselves, with the same view, of a pair of goats, male and female, which we left in an unfrequented part of East Bay. These places had been fixed upon, in hopes that our new colonists would there remain unmolested by the natives, who indeed were the only enemies they had to fear...” (Forster 2000: 126)
Thursday 3rd June 1773 The following story suggests a respectful, perhaps warm, relationship with at least one of the goats. It also demonstrates that there was more than one male goat (the young male mentioned yesterday and “Old Will” below which suggests breeding pairs, perhaps without genetic links, were a consideration:
“It was not uncommon for them [Maori] to bring their children with them aboard and present them to us in expectation of our making them presents, this happened to me yesterday morning a Man brought his Son* a boy about 10 years of age and presented him to me and as the report was then currant I thought he wanted to sell him, but at last I found out that he wanted me to give him a Shirt which I accordingly did the Boy was so fond of his new dress that he went all over the Ship presenting him self to every boddy that came in his way, this liberty of the Boy offended old Will the Ram Goat who up with his head and knock’d the boy backwards on the Deck, Will would have repeated his blow had not some of the people got to the boys assistance, this missfortune however seem’d to him irrepairable, the Shirt was dirted and he was afraid to appear in the Cabbin before his father untill brought in by Mr Forster, when he told a very lamentable story again Goure the great Dog, for so they call all the quadrepeds we have aboard, nor could he be pacified till his shirt was wash’d and dry’d.” (Beaglehole 1961: 170)

Forster also reported this incident in detail, but he incorrectly dated it as being in November 1773: “The next day two wretched canoes joined these in which was our friend Towahanga with his family. He came immediately on board, with his little boy Khoâa and his daughter Ko-parree, and disposed of a great number of green nephritic stones wrought into chissels and blades of hatchets. He was introduced into the cabin, where captain Cook gave him many little presents, and dressed his little boy in one of his own white shirts. The boy was so overjoyed at his finery, that we found it absolutely impossible to keep him in the cabin by fair words. He was bent upon parading it before his countrymen on the deck, and persisted to importune us till we let him out. His little vanity, however, had the most disastrous consequences. An old he-goat, which went about our decks, to the great terror of all the New Zeelanders, took offence at the ludicrous figure of poor Khoâa, who was lost in the ample turns and folds of his shirt, and awkwardly trotted along with self-complacency. The sturdy mountaineer stepped in his way, and raising himself on his hind-legs, butted with his head full against him, and laid him sprawling on the deck in an instant. The unsuccessful efforts which the boy made to rise, together with his loud lamentations, so provoked the goat, that he prepared to repeat the compliment, and would probably have silenced this knight of the rueful countenance, if some of our people had not interposed. His shirt was now sullied, and his face and hands covered with dirt; and in this pitiful plight he returned into the cabin. His air was quite dejected, his eyes full of tears, and he seemed to be perfectly cured of his vanity. He told his misfortune, crying, to his father; but far from exciting pity, he provoked the savage’s indignation, and received several blows as a punishment of his folly, before we could make his peace. We cleaned his shirt and washed him all over, which had perhaps never happened to him before during his life, and thus succeeded to restore him to his former tranquillity. However, his father, dreading a future misfortune, carefully rolled up the shirt, and taking off his own dress, made a bundle of it, in which he placed all the presents which he and his son had received.” (Forster 2000: 272-273)
7 June 1773 In the Lieutenant’s diary: “... we sail’d from Charlottes Sound having left behind us a breed of goats and one of Hoggs Landed in strange coves for fear the Indians should kill them.” (Holmes 1984: 57)
Friday 9 July 1773 Further evidence that there were a number of goats on board the Resolution:
“At 10 one of our goats fell over board, hoisted a boat out and took it up alive but it died soon after.” (Beaglehole 1961: 181)
“One of the goats foolishly fell overboard: a boat went back and saved it, but the poor thing died soon afterwards, perhaps disconsolate with the ship’s endless motion, the cheerless decks, and a bellyful of cold sea water.” (Villiers 1967: 174)
“On the 9th of July we were nearly in the same longitude where Captain Cook, in the Endeavour, had reached 40º 22’ south, but our latitude was about 2 degrees and a quarter more southerly. Here we lost a young he-goat, which fell overboard, and notwithstanding all possible means were tried for his recovery, such as chafing, injecting clysters of the fumes of tobacco, etc., our endeavours proved entirely ineffectual.” (Forster 2000: 137)
Friday 27 August 1773, In Tahiti
While the introduction of goats into New Zealand can be directly linked to Cook’s endeavours, it is important to acknowledge that the Resolution was not alone on her voyages to New Zealand; there is a strong likelihood that livestock, including goats, were on board the accompanying ships. Cook recorded, when visiting the Island of Otaheite (now known as Tahiti):
“Captain Furneaux who was with me gave to the King two fine goats male and female which if properly taken care of will no doubt multiply.” (Beaglehole 1961: 207).
“Captain Furneaux took that opportunity of presenting to him [the chief] a fine pair of goats, male and female, which he had brought from on board his own vessel the same morning. We succeeded very well in our attempt to make him comprehend the value of these animals, and the manner of treating them, for he promised that he would never kill nor separate them and take great care of their offspring.” (Forster 2000: 183)
And multiply they did! In James Morrison’s account of Tahiti after the ill-fated Bounty voyage of 1787-1789, he states “Many of the Goats were banishd to the Mountains as their Flesh was not a Compensation for the Mischief they did to the Cloth plantations, those they keep now are always tyed ... this Method of treating them prevents the Island from being over run with them which it soon would be if they were suffered to range at large.” (Morrison 2011)
3 November 1773 On their return to New Zealand: “.. we came safely into the Ship-Cove, from whence we sailed on the 7th of June, near five months before.... We had hardly dropped our anchor, before several of the inhabitants, who had been out fishing, came to see us in their canoes... We questioned them concerning the health of their absent countrymen, and received various answers; but among the rest they acquainted us, that GOOBAÏA, one of their old chiefs, had chaced the two goats which we had left in the woods of Grass-Cove, and had killed and eaten them.” (Forster 2000: 269)
Friday 5 November 1773 In Queen Charlotte Sound:
“With these people I saw the youngest of the two sows Captain Furneaux had put on shore in Cannibal Cove when we were last here, it was lame of one of its hind legs otherwise in good care and very tame; if we understood these people right, the boar and other sow were also taken away and separated but not killed; we have likewise been told that the two Goats I put onshore up the Sound had been killed by that old rascal Goubiah*; thus all our endeavours to stocking this country with useful animals are likely to be frustrated by the very people we meant to serve.” (Cook’s Journal 1772: 133)
Thursday 25 November 1773 Evidence that while Cook feared two of the goats he had left in New Zealand had been killed by Maori, he was aware this might not have been the case:
“The two goats however I believe were killed. I should have replaced them with two others, but had the missfortune to loose the ram a few days after we arrived. ... It will be unfortunate indeed if every method I have taken to provide this Country with usefull animals should be frustrated. We have likewise been told that the two Goats are still alive and runing about, but I give more credit to the first story than this. I should have replaced them by leaving behind the only two I had left, but had the missfortune to loose the Ram sence we have been here, in a manner we could hardly account for; they were both put on shore at the Tents soon after we arrived, where they seemed to thrive [p 297] very well, at last the ram was taken with fitts boardering on madness, we were at a loss to tell whether it was occasioned by any thing he had eat or by being Stung with Netles which were in plenty about the place, but supposed it to be the latter and therefore did not take the care of him we ought to have done; One night while he was lying by the Centinal, he was seized with one of these fitts and ran headlong into the Sea, but soon came out again and seemed quite easy, presently after he was seized with a nother fit and ran a long the beach and the she goat after him; some time after she returned but the other was never seen, more dilligent search was made for him in the woods to no purpose, we therefore supposed he had run into the Sea a Second time and been drown’d, after this accident it was to no purpose to leave the she goat, as she was not with kid, having kided but a few days before we arrived and the both of them died immidiately after. Thus the reader will see how every method I have taken to stock this Country with Sheep and Goats have proved ineffectual.” (Beaglehole 1961: 296-297)
Perhaps he didn’t die? Clearly goats were a highly desirable commodity to Maori; he may have been rescued?
Saturday 14 May 1774 Evidence that the gifted goats flourished in the Pacific Islands:
“The Two Goats which Captain Furneaux gave to Otoo when we were last here, seem to promise fair to answer the end for which [p 412] they were put on shore; the Ewe soon after had two feemale kids which were now so far grown as to be nearly ready to propagate and the old Ewe was again big with kid; the people seemed very fond of them and they seem to like their situation as well, as they were in most excellent case: It is to be hoped that in a few years they will have some to spare their Neighbours and by that means they may in time spread over all the Neighboring isles.” (Beaglehole 1961: 411-412)
Monday 31 October 1774 Cook suspects the goats he gave to the New Zealanders weren’t eaten after all:
“Sence the Natives did not distroy these Hogs when in their posession, we cannot suppose they will attempt it now, so that there is little fear but that this Country will soon be stocked with these Animals, both in a wild and domistick state. I am in doubt that the goats I put ashore are killed, for if they killed the goats why should they not the hogs also.” (Beaglehole 1961: 573)

On 2nd June 1773 Cook put ashore on Arapawa Island an older doe and a young buck. The doe had given birth to twins who died at sea in March 1773. Allowing there is at least 3 months between the loss of her kids and being put on the island, in all probability she was already impregnated by a mature buck (possibly Old Will who was clearly on board Resolution as a stud animal). By putting her on Arapawa Island with an unrelated young buck, Cook was allowing for a greater diversity of genetic pool – the young buck would later mate with the doe and her offspring. The age of the young buck is also relevant – Cook described him as being more than a year old. Why would he know the age of a young kid? Because on 2nd June 1773 they had only been away from England for 11 months, therefore Cook would have known that this young buck came aboard as a kid; possibly being fed by its mother. This provides further evidence that the goats put ashore on Arapawa Island have a direct link to the Old English Milch goat. That the young buck was unlikely to be from stock put aboard at Cape Verde Islands is because the description given by Forster on 14th August 1772 does not show in the characteristics of the modern day Arapawa goat. Where the Cape Verde Island goats were long-legged, straight horned and had pendulous ears, the Arapawa goat has a small, light-framed goat with all parts of the body in balanced proportion relative to its size, the ears are placed at the upper part of the skull and are expressive, and the horns sweep up towards the back, with the bucks’ sweeping up, back and curling outwards. There is a greater resemblance (almost identical) between the Arapawa goat and the Old English goat as described by the Old English Goat Society (2013). The latter is described as small and ‘cobby’ (the breed standards give the height at withers as being the same as the Arapawa), the legs are short and well-boned, the horns rise straight up to start with, then curve backwards (scimitar) or twist outwards (dorcas), and the ears are described as ‘small’ and pricked.

Different sources cited in the timeline provide the possibility of at least five goats being left at the top of Queen Charlotte Sound on Cook’s second voyage to that area; the male and female he left in the care of Maori in May 1773, the breeding pair he secreted onto Arapawa Island with Captain Ferneaux, and the ‘missing’ ram goat that ran off into the bush at Ships Cove on 25th November 1773. Despite extensive searching of ships records, and the reading of whalers memoirs, I have been unable to find any reference to other goats being left in that region prior to Edward Wakefield observing ‘swarms of goats’ on Arapawa Island in 1839.


Cook’s third and final voyage to the South Seas – and since
The purpose of Cook’s third and final voyage to the South Pacific was to ascertain the possibility of a northern passage to the Pacific Ocean. The Resolution left Plymouth, England, on 12 July 1776, accompanied by the Discovery which was Captained by Charles Clerke. This was Clerke’s second voyage to New Zealand; he had been an officer on the Resolution.
23-30 November 1776 Cook collected goats and other animals from the Cape of Good Hope. He wrote in his journal: “I added two young Bulls [names other animals] and Goats and some Rabbits and Poultry, all of them intended for New Zealand ... where there was prospect that the leaving of some of them might prove useful to posterity.” (p 30; Edwards 1955: 440).
21-27 February 1777 On 21st Feb 1777 Cook was visited by tribe of 30+ Maori from the Upper part of the Sound. On 24th Feb he writes:
“these two chiefs begged of me some goats and hogs. I accordingly gave to that first (Matahouah) two goats male and female, the latter with kid” (he was later told by two youths that one of the chiefs had Cook’s hens and a sow which Captain Ferneaux put on shore)... “Those which Captain Ferneaux put on shore and soon after fell into their hands, I was told were dead, but they seem to know nothing of those I left in the West Bay and Cannibal Cove when I was here last voyage, and they all say that poultry are now wild in the woods behind Ships Cove” (he talks about wanting to leave more animals and goats but couldn’t guarantee they’d be protected - stated that he let the goats go to Matahouah “to take their chance”. He also states “I have at different times left in this country (?animals) or a dozen hogs, besides those which Captain Ferneaux put on shore so it will be a little extraordinary if there is not a breed either in a wild or domesticated or both.” (Cook’s Journal, Folio 93)
The South Pacific Evidence that it was English goats Cook was leaving rather than goats picked up as stock on the journey southwards is provided by Villiers (1967) when he describes Cook’s third trip to the islands:
“Cook distributed King George’s livestock – rams and ewes, a bull and two cows, a horse and mare, English goats, a fine English boar and sows...” (p 204)
1797 Mavor releases sketch of Maori child being butted by ‘Old Will’ the ram goat on the Endeavour.
1827 Guard is shipwrecked on Arapawa Island. No mention of goats is made in his later memoirs. (Grady 1978)
September 1839 Edward Wakefield wrote that the half-caste children at Te Awaiti (Tory channel side of Arapawa Island) were as: “active and hardy as the goats with which the settlement also swarmed.” (Wakefield 1845: 50).
Given that Guard established the whaling station at Te Awaiti in the late 1820s after being shipwrecked there is 1827 (Grady 1978), and that it is unlikely that the early settlers brought ‘swarms’ of goats with them, it is probable that ‘swarms’ more likely developed over 60+ years of breeding. I suggest then, that these are the feral goats that were domesticated, living amongst Maori and settlers, and that there were also wild (feral) goats in the hills of Arapawa Island that thrived.
March 1906
An article on page 1 of the Marlborough Express confirms the belief that, at this time, the goats on Arapawa Island were the descendants of those left by Cook:
“Mr R. Ewing has a commission to place fifty fresh “nannies” upon the island [referring to Motuara Island near Cannibal Cove], and these will be caught on Cape Koamuro [the northernmost point of Arapawa] where the animal abounds. It is here pertinent to query whether these mountain goats are the actual progeny of those liberated in 1773 by Captain Cook? He certainly did, unknown to the Maoris, who had unceremoniously killed a previous gift, let some goats go in the bush in the vicinity.”
1954 Old English goats are thought to be extinct in England.
1971 Betty and Walt Rowe settle at Aotea, in East Bay, Arapawa Island. (Rowe 1988)
1976 Government cull of Arapawa Island goats implemented by the NZ Forest Service and endorsed by the Marlborough Sounds Maritime Park Board.
1987 Betty and Walt set aside 300 acres of their land on Arapawa Island as a sanctuary for the Arapawa Island goats.
1988 The story of Betty Rowe and the Arapawa Island goats: Arapawa - Once Upon an Island, is published by The Halcyon Press. (Rowe 1988)
1992 New Zealand Government pledged to play its part in halting the decline in global biodiversity at the Rio Earth Conference.
1993 A founding herd of Arapawa goats is exported to a living museum in Plymouth, Massachusets, USA.
1994 New Zealand’s Department of Conservation (DOC) builds a 4 km fence around part of the scenic reserve land to restrict the movement of goats and pigs into the forested part of Arapawa Island. This is only partially successful. To protect the vegetation, DOC states “ongoing goat and pig control is needed to reduce their numbers ... this control has generally taken place each year.” (Department of Conservation 2008).
2000 New Zealand’s Biodiversity Strategy is released, declaring “...because of the value and economic importance of much of our introduced biodiversity, the conservation of the genetic resources of our important introduced species is also addressed. [That] saving rare or endangered varieties, strains and breeds of species of introduced plants and animals avoids the loss of genes globally that might have future value.” The Glossary in this document defines ‘Indigenous Species’ as “A plant or animal species which occurs naturally in New Zealand.”; an ‘Introduced Species’ as “A plant or animal species which has been brought to New Zealand by humans, either by accident or design.”; and an ‘Invasive Species’ as “An animal pest or weed that can adversely affect indigeneous species and ecosystems by altering genetic variation within species, or affecting the survival of species, or the quality or sustainability of natural communities.”
2002 Walt Rowe dies.
2004 The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy (ALBC) lists Arapawa goats in their Conservation Priority List in the ‘Study’ category. (Arapawa Goat Breeders USA, 2011)
A breeding group of Arapawa goats is exported to the UK (IAGA, 2011)
Providing a Maori perspective, Mitchell & Mitchell state: “Cook’s goats are also believed by many to have been the root stock of the feral goats of Arapaoa Island.” (On page 21 the authors explain that Arapaoa is spelt ‘Arapawa’ by present-day cartographers and describe it as ‘the large island bounded by the Tory Channel, Queen Charlotte Sound (Totaranui) and Cook Strait.’ (2004: 175)
2005 Arapawa goat semen is exported to the USA: “Spencer Park x 100 straws, Yellow Tag x 120 straws and Darkie x 80 straws.”
2006 January – Given their low population, the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy (ALBC) elevates the Arapawa goats Conservation Priority to ‘Critical’ status.
A second supply of Arapawa goat semen is exported to USA: “Spencer Park x 25 straws, Yellow Tag x 25 straws, Willowbank x 12 straws, Droopy Ears x 64 straws, and Island II x 74 straws”
A children’s book The Goat Who Sailed The World is released; the cover of the book illustrates a photograph (taken by Karen Nicoll) of Hemmingway, an Arapawa buck owned by Willowbank Wildlife Park, Christchurch. (Jackie French, 2006)
2007 Following the results of a DNA analysis of Arapawa goats undertaken at the University of Córdoba in Spain, Dr Sponenberg, Professor of Pathology and Genetics at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Science reports that the Arapawa Island goats are a unique breed distinct from other goat breeds. (IAGA, 2011)
2008 11 April – Arapawa goats feature on ‘Campbell Live’ (NZ current events TV programme).
18 May – Betty Rowe dies.
September – The New Zealand Companion Animal Council (NZCAC) presents the Assisi Medal, ‘for services to animal welfare’, posthumously to Betty Rowe (IAGA 2009).
2009 Further DNA analysis confirms Arapawa goats are a very tight genetic group that is far removed from other goat breeds. It also verifies they are unrelated to other feral goat populations in New Zealand. (IAGA, 2011).
2012 The New Zealand Arapawa Goat Association (NZAGA) is established and incorporated under the Charitable Trusts Act on 9 May 2012.
2013 On 16 January a meeting is held in Picton between representatives from DOC Sounds Area and NZAGA to discuss issues over the future of the Arapawa Island goat breed on and off the island. Both parties looked for a solution to live capture Arapawa goats to increase the genetic pool for future breeding in domestication. Nine goats (3 bucks, 6 does) were retrieved from Arapawa Island on 14 Feb 2013.
A children’s picture book: Old Will, the first Arapawa goat is published.
2014 Recognition that Arapawa goats are direct descendants of the Old English Milch goat gains momentum (e.g. Byard 2014).
2016 A comprehensive history of the Arapawa goats is published following four years of in-depth research: No Ordinary Goat by Alison Sutherland.
2018 DNA evidence, based on a collaborative world-wide study by leading geneticists, clarifies the lineage of the New Zealand Arapawa goats: they are a unique modern-world breed, with a relationship to an unidentified indigenous South African breed and the possibility of early cross-bred origin. This means we cannot rule out an old English goat influence as both English and Cape Town goats were on Resolution in February 1777 when the pregnant doe and a buck were given to Maori. Followed by genetic isolation for centuries on Arapawa Island, they adapted into what is now the New Zealand Arapawa goat.
2019-2020 Cook's Ark. The animals that sailed with James Cook is published by Alison Sutherland. Provides details on the origins of the goats. DNA results based on 60 living animals establishes the genetic foundation for New Zealand's Arapawa goats.

The evidence clearly demonstrates that on all three of his voyages to the South Pacific, Cook was accompanied by goats, and that it was his hope that this versatile animal would multiply and benefit the inhabitants of New Zealand. In his journal notes Cook writes that he gave goats to Maori in the northern part of Queen Charlotte Sounds, and deliberately left, unseen, a breeding pair on what we now know as Arapawa Island. Having no evidence of anyone else leaving goats in this area prior to the observation that they “swarmed” at the whaling station on the eastern side of Arapawa Island, it is reasonable to assume that Cook’s goats multiplied and thrived there, virtually undisturbed for over 200 years.

So is there a connection between the Old English Milch goat and the goats observed by Wakefield on Arapawa Island in 1839? We know that, while returning to England after their first voyage to New Zealand, both Cook and Banks noted an abundance of goats at Cape Town. We also know that on his second voyage, Cook called into the Cape Verde Islands where a number of animals were purchased, including goats. Two months later they berthed at Cape Town for three weeks where more food, meat and livestock were acquired. Cook later made reference to kids dying of cold (2nd June 1773). I suggest that, on this second voyage, Cook brought with him from England, not only a milking goat but also an ‘Old English’ ram goat (referred to as ‘Old Will’ in the records on 3rd June 1773). This hypothesis is based on the fact that, given it is unlikely livestock were given pet names, the ram held a special status. The name of ‘Will’ is the clue to its English heritage – James Cook’s younger brother (who died at the age of three in 1748) was named William, as were King George III’s nephew and third son (William IV). Free to roam and mate with the nanny goats on board, Old Will’s progeny are ancestors of the little goats that flourished on Arapawa Island. Secluded from other goats, interbreeding over hundreds of years, the fertile little goats developed their own unique DNA. Further evidence to support this supposition is the resemblance of the present day Arapawa goats to the English goats depicted in archived pictures – Hearne’s nanny on the quarter-deck of the Deal Castle in 1775 (Salmond 1991) and the ram goat sketched by Mavor in 1797 (Mavor 1805).

However it is not just the probable connection to the Old English Milch goat that gives the Arapawa goat its right to survive. That the New Zealand Arapawa goat has evolved into a rare breed, distinct from all other goat breeds throughout the world, and that it is unique to New Zealand, is justification in ensuring that it is valued and conserved, rather than labelled as vermin or pest to be hunted and exterminated. Wikipedia describes indigenous species as “those established in a given region, having originated there, or been long settled without human intervention”. Under this definition, the Arapawa goat could be considered indigenous to New Zealand; it belongs nowhere else, and therefore would be entitled to protection under New Zealand’s Biodiversity Strategy (New Zealand Government 2000) which states:

“The genetic diversity of our indigenous species has considerable, but largely unknown, potential to contribute to human well-being. Erosion of indigenous genetic diversity may therefore foreclose options that might have been beneficial. In the same way, saving rare or endangered varieties, strains and breeds of species of introduced plants and animals avoids the loss of genes globally that might have future value.” (p 71).

Conversely, taking into account the Biodiversity Strategiec document definitions, where an ‘Indigenous Species’ is defined as “A plant or animal species which occurs naturally in New Zealand” the Arapawa goat cannot be considered indigenous to New Zealand. Instead it meets the criteria to be valued and protected as an ‘Introduced Species’ (“A plant or animal species which has been brought to New Zealand by humans, either by accident or design”) as opposed to being treated as an ‘Invasive Species’ (“An animal pest or weed that can adversely affect indigenous species and ecosystems by altering genetic variation within species, or affecting the survival of species, or the quality or sustainability of natural communities”) to be hunted and ‘controlled’ with the risk of eradication.


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