For amateur historians and trivia collectors everywhere

Location: Masterton, New Zealand

I survived school history despite the best efforts of the education system to bore me to death. Many years later, I discovered Treaties, dates, the movement of nations, are mere context. The fascination is in the details.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

This day in 1642, Dutch explorer Abel Tasman discovered "a large land, uplifted high" in the South Pacific, but never set foot on its shore. After an unfortunate introduction to the locals, whose ancestors had discovered the place several centuries earlier, he sailed north, charting the coast, and left "Staaten Landt" as a scratch on the edge of the world map. His discovery would later be renamed New Zealand.
William Pember Reeves, in his book 'The Long White Cloud' (1898), described the country -

The first European to find it was a Dutch sea-captain who was looking for something else, and who thought it a part of South America, from which it is sundered by five thousand miles of ocean. It takes its name from a province of Holland to which it does not bear the remotest likeness, and is usually regarded as the antipodes of England, but is not. Taken possession of by an English navigator, whose action, at first adopted, was afterwards reversed by his country's rulers, it was only annexed at length by the English Government which did not want it, to keep it from the French who did.


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