Portraits of Potatow and Omai, 1770s.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Engraving from 'Complete History of Captain Cook's First, Second and Third Voyages' (1784). Captain James Cook (1728-1779) the famed navigator and hydrographer, visited Tahiti on his second voyage (1772-1775). A Tahitian warrior named Omai was brought to London on board the HMS 'Adventure', the second of the two expedition ships. Omai was presented to the King and Queen at Kew. Cook took him back to Tahiti in 1776. Potatow (or Potattou) was also a Tahitian chief. Cook transformed the West's knowledge of the Pacific region after making three exploratory voyages there and circumnavigating the globe twice.