“On the 19th (of January, 1778,) at sunrise, the island first seen, bore east several leagues distant. … At this time, we were in some doubt whether or not the land before us was inhabited; but this doubt was soon cleared up, by seeing some canoes coming off from the shore, toward the ships”.
“In the course of my several voyages, I never before met with the natives of any place so much astonished, as these people were, upon entering a ship. Their eyes were continually flying from object to object …”
“… the wildness of their looks and gestures fully expressing their entire ignorance about every thing they saw, and strongly marking to us, that, till now, they had never been visited by Europeans, nor been acquainted with any of our commodities except iron …”
” Of what number this newly-discovered Archipelago consists, must be left for future investigation. We saw five of them, whose names, as given to us by the natives, are Woahoo (O‘ahu,) Atooi (Kauai,) Oneeheow (Ni‘ihau,) Oreehoua (Lehua) and Tahoora (Ka‘ula.)”
“Besides these … which we can distinguish by their names, it appeared, that the inhabitants of those with whom we had intercourse, were acquainted with some other islands both to the eastward and westward. I named the whole group the Sandwich Islands, in honour of the Earl of Sandwich.”
“The inhabitants are of a middling stature, firmly made, with some exceptions, neither remarkable for a beautiful shape, nor for striking features, which rather express an openness and good-nature, than a keen, intelligent disposition.”
“Their visage, especially amongst the women, is sometimes round; but others have it long; nor can we say that they are distinguished, as a nation, by any general cast of countenance.”
“Their colour is nearly of a nut-brown, and it may be difficult to make a nearer comparison, if we take in all the different hues of that colour; but some individuals are darker.”
“They are vigorous, active, and most expert swimmers; leaving their canoes upon the most trifling occasion; diving under them, and swimming to others though at a great distance.”
“It was very common to see women, with infants at the breast, when the surf was so high that they could not land in the canoes, leap overboard, and without endangering their little ones, swim to the shore, through a sea that looked dreadful.”
“They seem to be blest with a frank, cheerful disposition; … They seem to live very sociably in their intercourse with one another; and … they were exceedingly friendly to us.” “(T)hey spoke the language of Otaheite, and of the other islands we had lately visited.”
Men wore a ‘maro’ (malo,) “pieces of cloth tied about the loins, and hanging a considerable way down.” “The only difference in (women’s) dress, was their having a piece of cloth about the body, reaching from near the middle to half-way down the thighs, instead of the maro worn by the other sex.”
“The habitations of the natives were thinly scattered about … (part of Cook’s crew) had an opportunity of observing the method
of living amongst the natives, and it appeared to be decent and cleanly.”
“Though they seem to have adopted the mode of living in villages, there is no appearance of defence, or fortification, near any of them; and the houses are scattered about, without any order, either with respect to their distances from each other, or there position in any particular direction.”
“Their amusements seem pretty various; for, during our stay, several were discovered. The dances … from the motions which they made with their hands, on other occasions, when they sung, we could form some judgment that they are, in some degree at least, similar to those we had met with at the southern Islands”.
“They did not, however, see any instance of the men and women eating together; and the latter seemed generally associated in companies by themselves.”
“They eat off a kind of wooden plates, or trenchers; and the women, as far as we could judge from one instance, if restrained from feeding at the same dish with the men … are at least permitted to eat in the same place near them.”
“It was found, that they burnt here the oily nuts of the doee dooe for lights in the night, … and that they baked their hogs in ovens”.
“They met with a positive proof of the existence of the taboo (or as they pronounce it, the tafoo), for one woman fed another who was under that interdiction.”
“They also observed some other mysterious ceremonies; one of which was performed by a woman, who took a small pig, and threw it into the surf, till it was drowned, and then tied up a bundle of wood, which she also disposed of in the same manner. The same woman, at another time, beat with a stick upon a man’s shoulders, who sat down for that purpose.”
“They have salt, which they call patai; and is produced in salt ponds. With it they cure both fish and pork; and some salt fish, which we got from them, kept very well, and were found to be very good.”
“Fish, and other marine productions were, to appearance, not various; as, besides the small mackerel, we only saw common mullets; a sort of a dead white, or chalky colour; a small, brownish rock-fish, spotted with blue; a turtle, which was penned up in a pond; and three or four sorts of fish salted. The few shellfish that we saw were chiefly converted into ornaments”.
“Of animal food, they can be in no want; as they have abundance of hogs, which run, without restraint, about the houses ; and if they eat dogs, which is not improbable, their stock of these seem to be very considerable. The great number of fishing-hooks found among them, showed, that they derive no inconsiderable supply of animal food from the sea.”
“Judging from what we saw growing, and from what was brought to market, there can be no doubt that the greatest part of their vegetable food consists of sweet potatoes, taro, and plantains; and that bread-fruit and yams are rather to be esteemed rarities.”
“(T)he vale, or moist ground, produces taro, of a much larger size than any we had ever seen; and the higher ground furnishes sweet potatoes, that often weigh ten, and sometimes twelve or fourteen pounds; very few being under two or three.”
(This summary comes entirely from the Journals of Captain Cook, explaining what he saw immediately after contact.)