Abel Tasman ~ European discovery
The man chosen to command the expedition, Abel Janszoon Tasman, was born in Holland. By 1642 he already had years of experience sailing in north-west Pacific and Asian waters in the service of the Dutch East India Company. Tasman, Visscher and Isaac Gilsemans, who also joined the expedition, had been together in Japan when the Dutch were establishing a trading post there. Working for a company which was more interested in increasing profits than knowledge, Tasman was the servant of ‘a businessman’s empire’. But Visscher, who sailed with Tasman as his pilot-major and chief adviser, was a man of keen scientific curiosity. Gilsemans would draw the first European images of New Zealand.
Tasman sailed from Batavia on 14 August 1642 with 110 men on two ships, the Heemskerck and the Zeehaen. He first sailed south-west to Mauritius (a Dutch possession from 1598 to 1710), then south to below 49˚ (about the latitude of the Auckland Islands), before running east along about the 45th parallel (the latitude of Ōamaru). He discovered Tasmania (as it would later be called) on 24 November, naming it Van Diemen’s Land after one of the expedition’s chief instigators, the governor general of the Dutch East Indies, Anthony van Diemen. From there he sailed further east, becoming the first to cross the sea which now bears his name.
New Zealand discovered
On 13 December 1642 the Dutch sighted ‘a large land, uplifted high’ – probably the Southern Alps. After sighting land, Tasman’s ships veered south, then turned north to pass Cape Foulwind and Cape Farewell. He sailed around Farewell Spit into what is now called Golden Bay, where he anchored on 18 and 19 December.
John Wilson. ‘European discovery of New Zealand – Abel Tasman’, Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, updated 18-Jan-12 (URL: http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/european-discovery-of-new-zealand/2)