Showing posts from July, 2015

Clashing Cultures - Abel Tasman's Bloody First Encounter with Māori

The first encounter between Māori and Pākehā was characterised by what can only be described as mutual incomprehension. Neither party had any prior awareness of the other. They had no means of communicating with one another and no understanding of each other’s cultural values. Like so many other first contacts in the Pacific, the result was deadly, in this case especially so for the Europeans. Whereas in the sixteenth century it was the Spanish who dominated exploration of the Pacific, in the 1600s it was the Dutch, who had established a base in Batavia (modern-day Jakarta). It was from there that Abel Tasman led the two ships Zeehaen and the Heemskerck on a voyage of discovery in 1642. After charting the coast of what is today known as Tasmania (initially named Van Diemen's Land), Tasman sailed on to the east, into unknown waters, until on 13 December 1642 he sighted a ‘large, high-lying island’. The Dutch had reached the west coast of the South Island. They sailed up th