Gisborne’s ‘Crook Cook’ – the story behind the statue
The statue of James Cook, often refered to as ‘The Crook Cook’, was installed on Titirangi (Kaiti Hill) for the ‘Cook Bicentenary’ in Gisborne in October 1969.
It is one of three bronze copies of a marble statue that was made for the Captain Cook Brewery in Newmarket, Auckland in the early 1880s.
Because the face is not readily recognisable as a likeness of Cook, and the uniform is incorrect, it was thought for many years to not be a statue of Cook at all. A plaque was installed in October 1998 with the words ‘‘Who is he? We have no idea?” based on this erroneous conclusion.
Research into the history of the statue over the last ten years, and in particular a thorough research project undertaken by writer Christopher Paxton (published 2012), confirms that it is a statue of Captain James Cook. Despite this research being reported extensively in The Gisborne Herald, it remains a common misconception, particularly as the 1998 plaque still accompanies the statue and continues to sow confusion over the identity of the subject.