This day in history: January 13, 1642, Abel Tasman discovers New Zealand

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In Tasman’s only attempt to make landfall, several of his crew were killed by warriors from the South Island Tribe. The clash apparently happened because the trumpeting of the Europeans’ horns was mistaken for a signal to go into battle. 

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Several weeks before the discovery of New Zealand, Tasman had discovered Tasmania off the southeast coast of Australia. Originally naming the island Van Diemen’s Land, it and the sea between New Zealand and Australia were later renamed after the explorer. 

New Zealand was originally named after the Dutch province of Zeeland – oddly it did nothing much to attract the attention of Europe until the late 18th century when Captain James Cook traveled through the region and wrote detailed accounts of the islands, whalers, missionaries and traders. Finally in 1840 Britain annexed the islands and established New Zealand’s first permanent European Settlement at Wellington. 

Today a stunning National Park is also named after Abel Tasman – The Abel Tasman National Park

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