Jules-Sebastien-Cesar Dumont D'Urville (1790-1842) undertook three global voyages of exploration and is the navigator who made the single greatest contribution to perfecting the map of the Pacific in the nineteenth century. Learned and energetic, he explored the Pacific from Guam to Antarctica, and from New Guinea to Chile, collecting a vast number of natural history specimens and recording extensive hydrographic information. His achievements brought him national recognition in the form of the Legion of Honour, while his scientific contributions earned him the gold medal of the Societe de Geographie. Yet despite his intelligence and expertise, D'Urville was not an easy or likeable man. A classic workaholic, he often seemed cold and aloof, yet he earned the respect of his men through his humane and fair leadership. Always sympathetic to the island people he met, he even wrote a novel about the New Zealand Maori. His detailed account of his final voyage, eagerly awaited by the public, had to be completed by others when he, his wife and son were tragically killed in a railway accident in 1842.
John Dunmore retired as Professor of French at Massey University in 1983 afer a distinguished academic career. A world authority on French navigation in the Pacific, he has written more than 20 books on the subject. Appointed an officer of the Ordre des Palmes Academiques in 1986 and a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2001, Professor Dunmore was also appointed an Officer of the Legion of Honour by the French Government in 2007.