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First Encounter 375:  Read a Fairfax Media feature article online:  CLICK HERE



The first week of November has brought two important launches:

an illustrated children’s book Abel Tasman: Mapping the Southern Lands (by Maria Gill and Marco Ivancic).

Published by Scholastic~~ask your local bookshop, or online through Australian distributor Booktopia:

… and the launch in Golden Bay/Mohua of the full size replica of the Dutch small boat. The original  was a key factor in the events of 19 December 1642 and the replica will feature large in December 2017’s commemoration. It has been created by a local team of home-schooled students and parents, led by Tasman historian, Robert Jenkin, and supported by funding from Tasman District Council.


Background Reading: In 2012, as part of the commemoration of the 370th anniversary, the Netherlands Embassy hosted an important seminar in Nelson, which brought together scholars from the Netherlands and around New Zealand. CLICK HERE for a summary of the presentations and discussion.


Updated programme for the December commemoration in Golden Bay/Mohua:


First Encounter visitors coming from Tasman’s place:

Rob Zagmaan (Netherlands Ambassador to New Zealand) visited the Abel Tasman Museum in Lutjegast in July, and has sent this photo of the occasion. The museum was opened in 2014.

Rob is pictured here (centre, yellow tie) with a group including Grootegast Mayor Ard van der Tuuk (next to Rob) and Joost Tanasale 3rd from left). Mayor Ard and Joost are part of the 5-person delegation coming to Golden Bay/Mohua for the First Encounter 375 commemoration. We look forward to meeting them when they arrive on 16 December.

Lutjegast (Tasman’s birthplace) is within the municipality of Grootegast, which has a friendly town relationship with Tasman District Council, and Kingston, Tasmania.


First Encounter 375: The voyage begins

Today (14 August 2017) is the 375th anniversary of the day the Heemskerck & Zeehaen sailed from Batavia (now Jakarta) to begin their search for the Great South Land and its untold riches. As we know, his main discoveries were what became known as Tasmania, New Zealand, Tonga and Fiji and their peoples.

Below is a preliminary notice of this year’s events marking the actual anniversary (18/19 December) of the first encounter between Tasman’s crew and Maori resident in Golden Bay/Mohua. We are also marking the 75th anniversary of the establishment of Abel Tasman National Park in 1942 (300th anniversary).  [Notice subsequently removed as an updated version is available, above]

More information on these events will follow as funding and other details are confirmed. Please contact us on if you would like to go on the mailing list for information about the commemoration.


News from Tasmania:

The 375th anniversary commemoration will be marked in Tasmania on Sunday 3 December with a trip to Tasman Bay and a community lunch at the Bangor Wine and Oyster Shed. For more information contact Tom Dunbabin (
The site where Tasman’s ship’s carpenter Pieter Jacobsz swam ashore and planted the VOC flag on that day in December 1642 (and claiming possession) is now on private farmland, but regular trips are held to the site of a 1923 memorial (pictured). The strong Dutch community and a Dutch Consul in Hobart ensure history is remembered, and this year the Tasmanian government is also involved.
We will be keeping in touch with Tom about their events–and they with us about ours. It’s a shared story of discovery.



“Te Owha” (Precious Bequest) Bush, Birds, Beaches–Abel Tasman National Park

@Artbank, 57 Commercial Street, Takaka, during July 2017.

Acknowledging First Encounter 375 (1642-2017)


Music history: Thinking about Abel Tasman’s contribution
No automatic alt text available.Dr Philip Norman is writing a history of New Zealand composers. He recently identified a few major features.
First there’s our distinctive birdsong … and then there are the musical sounds of early Maori in Golden Bay/Mohua. Tasman was the first to describe our indigenous music, in December 1642.

Dr Norman comments:
“Abel Tasman, in the diaries of that time, said they heard some chanting on shore and what sounded like trumpets. They assumed the Maoris were giving them a welcoming concert. So they started singing a few bawdy Dutch sailors songs and tooted their trumpet, but what the Dutch were hearing was the Maori haka and the trumpet sound was probably the war trumpet calling all the tribes around.
“The next morning, all was revealed that it wasn’t a concert, but a challenge. To me, that is a prime example of music not being a universal language.”

Image is of a putatara (conch trumpet) in the collection of Te Papa. The putatara is the centre feature of our FE375 logo.


Whakamaharatanga toru rau ma whitu tekau ma rima — Commemoration 375

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Blok fragment’s ‘View of Murderers Bay’ and SAC’s equivalent

Robert Jenkin writes:

The SAC was evidently one of several Tasman Journals made in Batavia during the second half of 1643. More than one evidently reached the Netherlands in 1644 since on December 22nd 1643 The Council of The Indies signed a report with accompanying “daily registers kept by the aforesaid Tasman and the Pilot-major Francois Jacobsen Visscher, the said registers pertinently showing the winds and the courses held, and faithfully delineating the aspect and trend of the coasts, and the outward figure of the natives, etc” (Heeres (Life, p.145). Presumably at least another one stayed in Batavia. Wallace believes that six were sent “back to the six Dutch provinces that supported the VOC”. If so and with at least one staying in Batavia, seven or more such copies were produced. Sharp guesses that the copied illustrations of the SAC went into spaces left for them by the text copyist (pp. 54, 56). It’s also possible that Heemskerck’s draughtsman wrote his own captions on other leaves like Blok and then in 1643, back in Batavia, was textual copyist and illustrator of the SAC, there copying and improving his own art with editorial advice. If so, he then left spaces for the finely written labelling and captions Anderson sees as done by Gilsemans.

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A different theory to explain Blok fragment and its provenance

Robert Jenkin writes:

What we now now know as the Blok fragment is a single leaf of paper slightly less than A3 in size with ink and wash drawings on both sides. It is held in the Netherlands State Archives and online photos of it there can be seen here

In Abel Tasman in New Zealand Waters; The Pictorial Record, an article R.D.J. Collins published in the Bulletin of New Zealand Art History in 1991, Collins convincingly suggests that the Blok versions of the illustrations shown above are the originals from which those in the SAC were later  copied – I agree and discuss Collins’ observations further in a later post.

If we accept the Blok versions as the originals, what were their origin and purpose?

Blok seems to have had more exposure to the elements than SAC. Side one of Blok is numbered 21, suggesting it was once one of a set of numbered leaves. So was it part of such another illustrated text as SAC, all of whose other pages are now lost, as Heeres supposed, or could it be the last remaining leaf of all the illustrations drawn on Heemskerck by her designated artist (tekenaar)? Storage in a small warship during such an expedition could explain Blok’s weatherworn condition. For me this seems the likeliest theory based on the existing evidence, at least until more academic scholarship and perhaps some scientific testing can be brought to bear on Blok. Some of my reasons for believing that the drawings in it and in SAC are not the work of Gilsemans appear in my preceding post Van Diemen and his Councillors did not put all their artists in one barque and some on this page, Gilsemans’ earlier art.

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Which waka was the subject of the sketch for ‘Murderers Bay’?

Robert Jenkin writes:

In Traditional Maori Dress: Recovery of a Seventeenth–Century Style? Wallace has shown convincingly the documentary value of the close-up waka and its Maori  crew, as seen below in SAC and Blok alternatives.

From where and at what time was this large double waka sketched in such detail? Which of the waka mentioned in the text might it have been?

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Van Diemen and his Councillors did not put all their artists in one barque

Robert Jenkin writes:

In 1898 Dutch Scholar J.E.Heeres produced, in Dutch and English versions, an edited edition of the State Archives Copy of the Tasman Journal (SAC) called Tasman’s Journal of his Discovery of Van Diemen’s Land and New Zealand in 1642, with documents relating to his exploration of Australia in 1644.

This work, which includes varied documents and essays, is online. In one important section, Heeres’ essay Abel Janszoon Tasman: His life and labours, he argues  Gilsemans was probably the expedition’s primary draughtsman (page 107): “As ‘supercargo’ in the Zeehaen we find Isaack Gilsemans. He was most probably the ‘draughtsman’ mentioned in the Instructions, who had been directed to join the expedition”. Continue reading

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First Encounter 375 — May Newsletter

CLICK HERE for the latest Abel Tasman Miscellany–mainly about plans for  First Encounter 375. You can receive the “miscellany” newsletters automatically; email your details to

First Encounter 375 — a special logo as planning begins 

Yes, the 375th anniversary of the dramatic “first encounter” between tangata whenua (Maori, who first settled New Zealand) and another people takes place on 18 December.

In collaboration with Manawhenua ki Mohua, artist Robin Slow has created a striking logo with deep significance (explained below).

(Whakamaharatanga toru rau ma whitu tekau ma rima = Commemoration 375)


  1. The two manu (birds) forms on either side represent Mohua and Tasman. Mohua is the name of Golden Bay and the name of a manu, and one of the stories that come through tell of a large white bird coming into the area (the ships with the “flapping” of the sails).
  2. The manu have four koru, for the manawhenua plus three mata waka of the area.
  3. The putatara in the central portion describes the conflict between the land (mouthpiece) representing Tane and the sea (shell) representing Tangaroa, bound together by pingao the peace maker. The instrument was a feature in the communications between Tasman and the iwi. Hence the message it conveys.

Tasman’s time in New Zealand waters, which also included the first Christmas (sheltering behind Rangitoto/d’Urville Island) was from 13 December 1642, when land was first sighted, to 6 January 1643 when the voyagers named Three Kings Islands as they left to sail north towards Tonga and Fiji. 

Golden Bay/Mohua representatives Mairangi Reiher (Manawhenua ki Mohua) and Penny Griffith recently attended the Netherlands Embassy King’s Day celebration in Wellington. Penny (left) and Mairangi (centre) are shown here with Monique Zaagman-Bos, the ambassador’s wife, in front of a tiled reproduction of the well-known image from Tasman’s journal, showing  the events of 18/19 December.

Ambassador and Mrs Zaagman will be in Golden Bay/Mohua for this year’s main commemoration which will run from 16 to 19 December 2017.  Details to follow:  please email to receive information as plans evolve.


A winner!  Robert Jenkin’s model of Tasman’s 1642 “small boat”

Robert Jenkin (on the right) with two crew and the cardboard scale model “Praeutien” (small boat) referred to in Tasman’s account of the events of 18/19 December 1642.  “Praeutien” was first across the line and also won the senior best technical design award in the 2016 Cardboard Boat Race held annually at Tata Beach, in Golden Bay/Mohua.

“Praeutien” is an extra string to Robert’s Tasman “bow” — his diorama and interactive are part of the rich displays at Golden Bay Museum, along with his book Strangers in Mohua. The boat race win (on 29 January) feels highly appropriate in this 375th year of remembering that “first encounter” and the meeting of two worlds.

13 praeutien--ed

Images from the Ambassador’s visit 17/18 December 2016

 Planning dinner, Saturday 17th:  An extremely important meeting with broad representation from all the significant partners:  Ambassador Rob Zaagman, Manawhenua ki Mohua (Mairangi Reiher, Deen Myers), Mayor Richard Kempthorne (Tasman District Council) and Cr Paul Sangster, Dept of Conservation (Richard Struthers, Neil Murray), Geoff Rennison (Board Member, Golden Bay Museum), Robert Jenkin (historian), Sacha Horton (Dutch community).



 Abel Tasman Mimg_3606-largeonument, Sunday 18 December (374th anniversary): Richard Struthers (DOC) spoke about plans to significantly upgrade the site and monument, while Researcher Dave Horry talked about the actual events and location of the anchorage. Ambassador Zaagman made a strong personal commitment to being in Golden Bay/Mohua on the anniversary in years to come–but especially for the 375th anniversary in 2017.




Floor talks at Golden Bay Museum, Sunday 18 December:  The ambassador spoke about the importance of continuing to build on the relationship between two peoples, and Dave Horry put the details of the confrontation into the context of communication, protocols and expectations, which were so different for the Dutch sailors and tangata whenua


Honoured by Ambassador’s visit for First Meeting Day (AT374) events

Golden Bay/Mohua welcomes ambassador Rob Zaagman and Monique Zaagman to this year’s commemoration of First Meeting Day (or Abel Tasman 374). This may be the first time since 1942 that an official representative of the Netherlands has been here on the actual date of when Tasman’s ships sailed in the Bay, on 18 December 1642.

Our activities this year have been affected by the tides, so there won’t be a walk to Taupo Point this year. It’s been very popular in the past, so we hope it will be right for the 375th anniversary next year.


Mayor of Tasman District Council meets Dutch royals

Residents of Tasman District–where the 1642  “First Meeting” took place in what is now Golden Bay/Mohua–are proud that their mayor Richard Kempthorne and his wife Jane were invited to be guests at the recent state dinner for the Dutch King and Queen in Wellington.

Not only did the honour reinforce the already strong link between Tasman District and the Grootegast municipality (close to Abel Tasman’s birthplace), but it also created a wider recognition of the significance of Tasman’s voyage in New Zealand’s documented heritage record. Here’s an account from a local newspaper:


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What happened to the 4th Dutch sailor after 19 December 1642?

Professor Richard Woolley brings his film-making skills to the world of words. His new novel Stranger Love builds on the facts recorded in Tasman’s journal to create a gripping story that begins in Amsterdam and ends in a Maori settlement where Jakob is enslaved. But how does the story end?  Read it!

Order from your bookshop (New Zealand RRP is $29.99 for the paperback) — or from a supplier online: The Nile or Fishpond (for hardcopies) and Amazon for the e-version.


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Netherlands Ambassador’s visit

Ambassador Rob Zaagman,  with his wife Monique and sister Ingrid, came to Golden Bay/Mohua on Saturday 5 March. Following a powhiri (formal welcome) at Onetahua Marae, they spent some time getting to know more about Abel Tasman National Park with DOC staffer Neil Murray.
The picture shows (from left to right): Neil Murray, Monique Zaagman, Ambassador Rob Zaagman, and Ingrid Zaagman at the Abel Tasman Monument above Ligar Bay. The monument was built in 1942, as part of the 300th commemoration of the first recorded meeting (18/19 December 1642) between Maori and people of another race.
Plans for the 375th anniversary in 2017 include three large information panels at the memorial, to explain the events and background. The panels are being developed by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, which is responsible for the 20 national monuments (12 in New Zealand, 8 overseas).
 05--Abel Tasman Memorial--with Neil Murray
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Kupe’s Sails

kupes labelled

Robert Jenkin wrote:

After reading the 2007 New Zealand Book Award History  prize-winning book Vaka Moana (2006, K.Howe ed.) and Atholl Anderson’s chapters of the 2015 Royal Society of New Zealand Science Book prize-winning book Tangata Whenua I think I understand that stages in the evolution of the shunting oceanic-lateen were first the double-sprit, next the oceanic-sprit, next and crucially the prop-masted oceanic-lateen, as used by Tonga in her ‘imperial’ period, which may have reached the Cook Islands from Tonga in or before the 11th century, and finally the shunting oceanic-lateen. This is the ‘flyer’ type, which so impressed visiting Europeans, first Magellan in Guam in 1521,  then the Dutch in Batavia Java, in the 17th century and later the English and the French in northeast Polynesia in the 18th century. The shunting oceanic-lateen arguably out-performed any other sailing rig in the world, but in order to tack by ‘shunting’, waka that used it needed to be double-ended.

petroglyphIn order to to make return trips to South America, Easter Island, Hawaii and Aotearoa,  East Polynesian voyaging waka had to sail fast, at least with and across the wind. The sail used on some of the voyaging canoes that came here in the thirteenth century could possibly have been the prop-masted oceanic-lateen, as indicated by the Wairarapa coast landforms called Kupe’s sails and also by an Easter Island petroglyph. This was also the sail first seen by Europeans on an open ocean voyaging canoe. The Schouten and le Maire expedition sighted, captured and eventually released a Tongan double hulled voyaging canoe with a complement of about 25 possibly on its way from Tonga to Samoa in 1616. Tonga and Samoa may have first developed prop-masted lateen sails centuries before, perhaps even before the 11th century. In that case East Polynesians would very possibly also have acquired them, perhaps through the Cook Islands, and used them in the the 12th and 13th centuries for their far-ranging trans-Pacific voyages.

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The aquisitive gaze – colonialism and post-colonialism

Robert Jenkin wrote:

Can present day New Zealanders, descendants of the colonisers and the colonised,  construct a post-colonial and more bi-cultural view of  our shared history; can we assess the story of the first recorded meeting between Maori and Europeans post-colonially? One major problem is that every single contemporary text we so far have to use in doing so was written down or drawn or charted by a European.

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