"Lieutenant (by courtesy, Captain) James Cook undertook a voyage of exploration of the Pacific in H.M.S. Endeavour between 1768 and 1771. The aims of this voyage included not only the charting of the coasts of New Zealand and eastern Australia (very imperfectly known at that date), but also the observation of the topography, wildlife and resources of the region as well as the lifestyles, customs and religious systems of the native peoples there. To ensure that these aims could be met, the Endeavour carried scientists and artists as well as the ship's crew. Their collections of drawings and of objects collected on the voyage form the base of all subsequent ethnographical investigations of the Pacific area. Many of these scientists and artists kept Journals or Diaries in which they recorded their findings and comments.
Captain Cook kept a detailed Journal or Log of this voyage. This was not in itself anything unusual – such Journals were a usual part of any Royal Navy voyage at the time, required to be kept by the ship's captain – but it is unique in the depth of its descriptions of the peoples and customs of Tahiti, New Zealand and Australia. The voyage of the Endeavour was to lead to settlement of people from Britain on the eastern coast of Australia a mere 17 years later. This Journal thus marks the point when Westerners first started to impinge significantly on the Pacific. It is critical to the general history of the Pacific and to the history of Australia and New Zealand in particular. This documentary heritage was inscribed on the International Memory of the World Register in 2001."