After exploring Tahiti and the Society group, Cook spent six months surveying New Zealand, which he discovered to be an island, and the coast of New South Wales from latitude 38° S.
The visits to the United Kingdom of properly organized teams of bowlers from Australia and New Zealand in 1901 and from Canada in 1904 demonstrated that the game had gained enormously in popularity.
In 1837 the New Zealand Association was established, and he became its managing director.
He acted in the same spirit a few months later, when (about July 1839), understanding that the authorities intended to prevent the despatch of emigrants to New Zealand, he hurried them off on his own responsibility, thus compelling the government to annex the country just in time to anticipate a similar step on the part of France.
For several years Wakefield continued to direct the New Zealand Company, fighting its battles with the colonial office and the missionary interest, and secretly inspiring and guiding many parliamentary committees on colonial subjects, especially on the abolition of transportation.