Omai Scores a Hit in London -- Capt. James Cook discovered Raiatea during his first expedition to the islands in 1769. On his second voyage, in 1773, he took home with him a young Raiatean named Mai, or Omai to the English, who was living on Huahine at the time. Like Ahutoru, a Tahitian brought to Paris by the French explorer Antoine de Bougainville 2 years earlier, Omai was seen as living proof of philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau's theory of humans as "noble savages." The first Polynesian to visit England, Omai became an instant hit with London society and even met King George III and Queen Charlotte, who apparently were impressed with his grace and good manners. Great artists painted him, and writers spun many words about him (including some pornography). High society soon lost interest, however, and Cook brought Omai home in 1777 on his third and last great voyage of discovery.
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