Abel Janszoon Tasman (Dutch: [ˈɑbəl ˈjɑnsoːn ˈtɑsmɑn]; 1603 – 10 October 1659) was a Dutch seafarer and explorer, best known for his voyages of 1642 and 1644 in the service of the Dutch East India Company (VOC).

Abel Tasman
Detail from portrait by Jacob Gerritsz. Cuyp, c. 1637
Died10 October 1659(1659-10-10) (aged 55–56)
  • Claesgie Heyndrix
  • Jannetje Tjaers (Joanna Tiercx)
ChildrenClaesjen Tasman (daughter)

Born in 1603 in Lutjegast, Netherlands, Tasman started his career as a merchant seaman and became a skilled navigator. In 1633, he joined the VOC and sailed to Batavia, now Jakarta, Indonesia. He participated in several voyages, including one to Japan. In 1642, Tasman was appointed by the VOC to lead an expedition to explore the uncharted regions of the Southern Pacific Ocean. His mission was to discover new trade routes and to establish trade relations with the native inhabitants. After leaving Batavia, Tasman sailed eastward and reached the coast of Tasmania, which he named Van Diemen's Land after his patron. He then sailed north and discovered the west coast of New Zealand, which he named Staten Landt, but later renamed Nieuw Zeeland after the Dutch province of Zeeland.

Despite his achievements, Tasman's expedition was not entirely successful. The encounter with the Māori people on the South Island of New Zealand resulted in a violent confrontation, which left four of Tasman's men dead. He returned to Batavia without having made any significant contact with the native inhabitants or establishing any trade relations. Nonetheless, Tasman's expedition paved the way for further exploration and colonization of Australia and New Zealand by the British. Tasman continued to serve the Dutch East India Company until his death in 1659, leaving behind a legacy as one of the greatest explorers of his time.

Origins and early life edit

Portrait of Abel Tasman, his wife and daughter. Attributed to Jacob Gerritsz Cuyp, 1637 (not authenticated).[1][2]

Abel Tasman was born around 1603 in Lutjegast, a small village in the province of Groningen, in the north of the Netherlands. The oldest available source mentioning him is dated 27 December 1631 when, as a seafarer living in Amsterdam, the 28-year-old became engaged to marry 21-year-old Jannetje Tjaers, of Palmstraat in the Jordaan district of the city.[3][4][5]

Routes taken by Tasman in the Australasian region, on his first and second voyages.

Relocation to the Dutch East Indies edit

Employed by the Dutch East India Company (VOC), Tasman sailed from Texel (Netherlands) to Batavia, now Jakarta, in 1633 taking the southern Brouwer Route. While based in Batavia, Tasman took part in a voyage to Seram Island (in what is now the Maluku Province in Indonesia) because the locals had sold spices to other European nationalities than the Dutch. He had a narrow escape from death when in an incautious landing several of his companions were killed by the inhabitants of the island.[6]

By August 1637, Tasman was back in Amsterdam, and the following year he signed on for another ten years and took his wife with him to Batavia. On 25 March 1638 he tried to sell his property in the Jordaan, but the purchase was cancelled.

He was second-in-command of a 1639 expedition of exploration into the north Pacific under Matthijs Quast. The fleet included the ships Engel and Gracht and reached Fort Zeelandia (Dutch Formosa) and Deshima (an artificial island off Nagasaki, Japan).

First major voyage edit

In August 1642, the Council of the Indies, consisting of Antonie van Diemen, Cornelis van der Lijn, Joan Maetsuycker, Justus Schouten, Salomon Sweers, Cornelis Witsen, and Pieter Boreel in Batavia dispatched Tasman and Franchoijs Jacobszoon Visscher on a voyage of exploration to little-charted areas east of the Cape of Good Hope, west of Staten Land (near the Cape Horn of South America) and south of the Solomon Islands.[7]

One of the objectives was to obtain knowledge of "all the totally unknown" Provinces of Beach.[8] This was a purported yet non-existent landmass said to have plentiful gold, which had appeared on European maps since the 15th century, as a result of an error in some editions of Marco Polo's works.

The expedition was to use two small ships, Heemskerck and Zeehaen.

Mauritius edit

In accordance with Visscher's directions, Tasman sailed from Batavia on 14 August 1642[9] and arrived at Mauritius on 5 September 1642, according to the captain's journal.[10] The reason for this was the crew could be fed well on the island; there was plenty of fresh water and timber to repair the ships. Tasman got the assistance of the governor Adriaan van der Stel.

Because of the prevailing winds, Mauritius was chosen as a turning point. After a four-week stay on the island, both ships left on 8 October using the Roaring Forties to sail east as fast as possible. (No one had gone as far as Pieter Nuyts in 1626/27.) On 7 November, snow and hail influenced the ship's council to alter course to a more north-easterly direction,[11] with the intention of having the Solomon Islands as their destination.

Tasmania edit

Coastal cliffs of Tasman Peninsula

On 24 November 1642, Tasman reached and sighted the west coast of Tasmania, north of Macquarie Harbour.[12] He named his discovery Van Diemen's Land, after Antonio van Diemen, Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies.

Proceeding south, Tasman skirted the southern end of Tasmania and turned north-east. He then tried to work his two ships into Adventure Bay on the east coast of South Bruny Island, but he was blown out to sea by a storm. This area he named Storm Bay. Two days later, on 1 December, Tasman anchored to the north of Cape Frederick Hendrick just north of the Forestier Peninsula. On 2 December, two ship's boats under the command of the Pilot, Major Visscher, rowed through the Marion Narrows into Blackman Bay, and then west to the outflow of Boomer Creek where they gathered some edible "greens".[13] Tasman named the bay, Frederick Hendrik Bay, which included the present North Bay, Marion Bay and what is now Blackman Bay. (Tasman's original naming, Frederick Henrick Bay, was mistakenly transferred to its present location by Marion Dufresne in 1772). The next day, an attempt was made to land in North Bay. However, because the sea was too rough, a ship's carpenter swam through the surf and planted the Dutch flag. Tasman then claimed formal possession of the land on 3 December 1642.[14]

For two more days, he continued to follow the east coast northward to see how far it went. When the land veered to the north-west at Eddystone Point,[15] he tried to follow the coast line but his ships were suddenly hit by the Roaring Forties howling through Bass Strait.[16] Tasman was on a mission to find the Southern Continent not more islands, so he abruptly turned away to the east and continued his continent-hunting.[17]

New Zealand edit

Murderers' Bay, drawing by Isaack Gilsemans[18]
Māori haka

Tasman had intended to proceed in a northerly direction but as the wind was unfavourable he steered east. The expedition endured a rough voyage and in one of his diary entries Tasman claimed that his compass was the only thing that had kept him alive.

On 13 December 1642 they sighted land on the north-west coast of the South Island of New Zealand, becoming the first Europeans to sight New Zealand.[19] Tasman named it Staten Landt "in honour of the States General" (Dutch parliament).[20] He wrote, "it is possible that this land joins to the Staten Landt but it is uncertain",[21] referring to Isla de los Estados, a landmass of the same name at the southern tip of South America, encountered by the Dutch navigator Jacob Le Maire in 1616.[22] However, in 1643 Brouwer's expedition to Valdivia found out that Staaten Landt was separated by sea from the hypothetical Southern Land.[23][24][25] Tasman continued: "We believe that this is the mainland coast of the unknown Southland."[26] Tasman thought he had found the western side of the long-imagined Terra Australis that stretched across the Pacific to near the southern tip of South America.[27]

After sailing north then east for five days, the expedition anchored about 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) from the coast off what is now Golden Bay. A group of Māori paddled out in a waka (canoe) and attacked some sailors who were rowing between the two Dutch vessels. Four sailors were clubbed to death with patu.[28]

In the evening about one hour after sunset we saw many lights on land and four vessels near the shore, two of which betook themselves towards us. When our two boats returned to the ships reporting that they had found not less than thirteen fathoms of water, and with the sinking of the sun (which sank behind the high land) they had been still about half a mile from the shore. After our people had been on board about one glass, people in the two canoes began to call out to us in gruff, hollow voices. We could not in the least understand any of it; however, when they called out again several times we called back to them as a token answer. But they did not come nearer than a stone's shot. They also blew many times on an instrument, which produced a sound like the moors' trumpets. We had one of our sailors (who could play somewhat on the trumpet) play some tunes to them in answer."[10]

As Tasman sailed out of the bay he observed 22 waka near the shore, of which "eleven swarming with people came off towards us". The waka approached the Zeehaen which fired and hit a man in the largest waka holding a small white flag. Canister shot also hit the side of a waka.[10][29] Archaeologist Ian Barber suggests that local Maori were trying to secure a cultivation field under ritual protection (tapu) where they believed the Dutch were attempting to land. As the month of this contact, December was at the mid-point of the locally important sweetpotato/kūmara (Ipomoea batatas) growing season.[30] Tasman named the area "Murderers' Bay".[28]

The expedition then sailed north, sighting Cook Strait, which separates the North and South Islands of New Zealand, and which it mistook for a bight and named "Zeehaen's Bight". Two names that the expedition gave to landmarks in the far north of New Zealand still endure: Cape Maria van Diemen and Three Kings Islands. (Kaap Pieter Boreels was renamed Cape Egmont by Captain James Cook 125 years later.)

Return voyage edit

Tongatapu, the main island of Tonga; drawing by Isaack Gilsemans
The bay of Tongatapu with the two ships; drawing by Isaack Gilsemans

En route back to Batavia, Tasman came across the Tongan archipelago on 20 January 1643. While passing the Fiji Islands Tasman's ships came close to being wrecked on the dangerous reefs of the north-eastern part of the Fiji group. He charted the eastern tip of Vanua Levu and Cikobia-i-Lau before making his way back into the open sea.

The expedition turned north-west towards New Guinea and arrived back in Batavia on 15 June 1643.[14]

Second major voyage edit

Tasman left Batavia on 30 January 1644 on his second voyage with three ships (Limmen, Zeemeeuw and the tender Braek). He followed the south coast of New Guinea eastwards in an attempt to find a passage to the eastern side of New Holland. However, he missed the Torres Strait between New Guinea and Australia, probably due to the numerous reefs and islands obscuring potential routes, and continued his voyage by following the shore of the Gulf of Carpentaria westwards along the north Australian coast. He mapped the north coast of Australia, making observations on New Holland and its people.[31] He arrived back in Batavia in August 1644.

From the point of view of the Dutch East India Company, Tasman's explorations were a disappointment: he had neither found a promising area for trade nor a useful new shipping route. Although Tasman was received courteously on his return, the company was upset that Tasman had not fully explored the lands he found, and decided that a more "persistent explorer" should be chosen for any future expeditions.[32] For over a century, until the era of James Cook, Tasmania and New Zealand were not visited by Europeans; mainland Australia was visited, but usually only by accident.

Later life edit

On 2 November 1644, Abel Tasman was appointed a member of the Council of Justice in Batavia. He went to Sumatra in 1646, and in August 1647 to Siam (now Thailand) with letters from the company to the King. In May 1648, he was in charge of an expedition sent to Manila to try to intercept and loot the Spanish silver ships coming from America, but he had no success and returned to Batavia in January 1649. In November 1649, he was charged and found guilty of having in the previous year hanged one of his men without trial, was suspended from his office of commander, fined, and made to pay compensation to the relatives of the sailor. On 5 January 1651, he was formally reinstated in his rank and spent his remaining years at Batavia. He was in good circumstances, being one of the larger landowners in the town. He died at Batavia on 10 October 1659 and was survived by his second wife and a daughter by his first wife. His property was divided between his wife and his daughter. In his will (dating from 1657[33]), he left 25 guilders to the poor of his village, Lutjegast.[34]

Although Tasman's pilot, Frans Visscher, published Memoir concerning the discovery of the South land in 1642,[35] Tasman's detailed journal was not published until 1898. Nevertheless, some of his charts and maps were in general circulation and used by subsequent explorers.[31] The journal signed by Abel Tasman of the 1642 voyage is held in the Dutch National Archives at The Hague.[36]

Legacy edit

Tasman's ten-month voyage in 1642–43 had significant consequences. By circumnavigating Australia (albeit at a distance) Tasman proved that the small fifth continent was not joined to any larger sixth continent, such as the long-imagined Southern Continent. Further, Tasman's suggestion that New Zealand was the western side of that Southern Continent was seized upon by many European cartographers who, for the next century, depicted New Zealand as the west coast of a Terra Australis rising gradually from the waters around Tierra del Fuego. This theory was eventually disproved when Captain Cook circumnavigated New Zealand in 1769.[37]

Abel Tasman National Park

Multiple places have been named after Tasman, including:

Also named after Tasman are:

His portrait has been on four New Zealand postage stamp issues, on a 1992 5 NZD coin, and on 1963, 1966[38][unreliable source?] and 1985 Australian postage stamps.[39]

In the Netherlands, many streets are named after him. In Lutjegast, the village where he was born, there is a museum dedicated to his life and travels.

Tasman's life was dramatised for radio in Early in the Morning (1946) a play by Ruth Park.

Tasman map edit

Abel Tasman map, circa 1644, also known as the Tasman 'Bonaparte' map
State Library of New South Wales vestibule, showing a mosaic of the Tasman map inlaid in the floor

Held within the collection of the State Library of New South Wales is the Tasman map,[40] thought to have been drawn by Isaac Gilsemans, or completed under the supervision of Franz Jacobszoon Visscher.[41] The map is also known as the Bonaparte map, as it was once owned by Prince Roland Bonaparte, the great-nephew of Napoleon.[42] The map was completed sometime after 1644 and is based on the original charts drawn during Tasman's first and second voyages.[43] As none of the journals or logs composed during Tasman's second voyage have survived, the Bonaparte map remains as an important contemporary artefact of Tasman's voyage to the northern coast of the Australian continent.[43]

The Tasman map reveals the extent of understanding the Dutch had of the Australian continent at the time.[44] The map includes the western and southern coasts of Australia, accidentally encountered by Dutch voyagers as they journeyed by way of the Cape of Good Hope to the VOC headquarters in Batavia.[42] In addition, the map shows the tracks of Tasman's two voyages.[42] Of his second voyage, the map shows the Banda Islands, the southern coast of New Guinea and much of the northern coast of Australia. However, the land areas adjacent to the Torres Strait are shown unexamined; this is despite Tasman having been given orders by VOC Council at Batavia to explore the possibility of a channel between New Guinea and the Australian continent.[43][44]

There is debate as to the origin of the map.[45] It is widely believed that the map was produced in Batavia; however, it has also been argued that the map was produced in Amsterdam.[42][45] The authorship of the map has also been debated: while the map is commonly attributed to Tasman, it is now thought to have been the result of a collaboration, probably involving Franchoijs Visscher and Isaack Gilsemans, who took part in both of Tasman's voyages.[8][45] Whether the map was produced in 1644 is also subject to debate, as a VOC company report in December 1644 suggested that at that time no maps showing Tasman's voyages were yet complete.[45]

In 1943, a mosaic version of the map, composed of coloured brass and marble, was inlaid into the vestibule floor of the Mitchell Library in Sydney.[46] The work was commissioned by the Principal Librarian William Ifould, and completed by the Melocco Brothers[47] of Annandale, who also worked on ANZAC War Memorial in Hyde Park and the crypt at St Mary's Cathedral, Sydney.[48][41]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ "Treasures : Home". pandora.nla.gov.au. 20 August 2006. Archived from the original on 22 July 2008. Retrieved 4 July 2019.
  2. ^ Cuyp, Jacob. "Portrait of Abel Tasman, his wife and daughter". Item held by National Gallery of Australia. Archived from the original on 5 March 2017. Retrieved 23 May 2019.
  3. ^ "Ondertrouw Registers 1565–1811, Zoek". 1 December 2017. Archived from the original on 1 December 2017. Retrieved 4 July 2021.
  4. ^ "Groom Abel Jansen Tasman". Municipality of Amsterdam City Archives. Retrieved 4 July 2021.
  5. ^ Pera, Klaas. "Abel Janszoon Tasman (1603–1659) » Stamboom Helmantel". Genealogie Online. Archived from the original on 23 July 2018. Retrieved 19 October 2019.
  6. ^ Forsyth, J. W. Tasman, Abel Janszoon (1603–1659). National Centre of Biography, Australian National University. Archived from the original on 30 July 2016. Retrieved 8 August 2016 – via Australian Dictionary of Biography.
  7. ^ Andrew Sharp, The Voyages of Abel Janszoon Tasman, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1968, p. 25.
  8. ^ a b J.E. Heeres, "Abel Janszoon Tasman, His Life and Labours", Abel Tasman's Journal, Los Angeles, 1965, pp. 137, 141–42; cited in Andrew Sharp, The Voyages of Abel Janszoon Tasman, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1968, p. 24.
  9. ^ "Abel Janszoon Tasman, the first known European explorer to reach Tasmania and New Zealand and to sight Fiji". robinsonlibrary.com. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 31 August 2015.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  10. ^ a b c "Tasman Journal". Archived from the original on 29 August 2016. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  11. ^ "ebooks06/0600611". Archived from the original on 8 October 2020. Retrieved 31 August 2015 – via Project Gutenberg Australia.
  12. ^ "Monumenta cartographica [cartographic material] : reproductions of unique and rare maps, plans and views in the actual size of the originals : accompanied by cartographical monographs | Original map of Tasmania in December 1642". Archived from the original on 29 June 2011. Retrieved 31 August 2015 – via National Library of Australia.
  13. ^ Burney, J (1813) A Chronological History of the Voyage and Discoveries in the South Sea of Pacific Ocean L Hansard & Sons, London, p. 70, cited in Potts, B.M. et al (2006) Janet Sommerville's Botanical History of Tasmania University of Tasmania and TMAG
  14. ^ a b Beazley 1911.
  15. ^ Schilder, Günter (1976). Australia unveiled : the share of the Dutch navigators in the discovery of Australia. Amsterdam: Theatrum Orbis Terrarum Ltd. p. 170. ISBN 9022199975.
  16. ^ Valentyn, Francois (1724–1726). Oud en nieuw Oost-Indien. Dordrecht: J. van Braam. p. vol. 3, p. 47. ISBN 9789051942347.
  17. ^ Cameron-Ash, M. (2018). Lying for the Admiralty. Sydney: Rosenberg. p. 105. ISBN 9780648043966.
  18. ^ "A view of the Murderers' Bay – History – Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand". teara.govt.nz. Archived from the original on 5 December 2012. Retrieved 31 August 2015.
  19. ^ "European discovery of New Zealand". Encyclopedia of New Zealand. 4 March 2009. Archived from the original on 10 November 2010. Retrieved 9 December 2010.
  20. ^ John Bathgate. "The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout:Volume 44. Chapter 1, Discovery and Settlement". NZETC. Archived from the original on 24 July 2020. Retrieved 17 August 2018. He named the country Staaten Land, in honour of the States-General of Holland, in the belief that it was part of the great southern continent.
  21. ^ Tasman, Abel. "Journal or Description by me Abel Jansz Tasman, Of a Voyage from Batavia for making Discoveries of the Unknown South Land in the year 1642". Archived from the original on 8 October 2020. Retrieved 26 March 2018 – via Project Gutenberg Australia.
  22. ^ Wilson, John (March 2009). "European discovery of New Zealand – Tasman's achievement". Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Archived from the original on 6 January 2012. Retrieved 24 January 2011.
  23. ^ Lane, Kris E. (1998). Pillaging the Empire: Piracy in the Americas 1500–1750. Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe. p. 88. ISBN 978-0-76560-256-5.
  24. ^ Kock, Robbert. "Dutch in Chile". Colonial Voyage.com. Archived from the original on 29 February 2016. Retrieved 23 October 2014.
  25. ^ Barros Arana, Diego (2000) [1884]. Historia General de Chile (in Spanish). Vol. IV (2 ed.). Santiago, Chile: Editorial Universitaria. p. 280. ISBN 956-11-1535-2. Archived from the original on 31 August 2019. Retrieved 31 August 2019.
  26. ^ Tasman, Abel Jansz. The Huydecoper Journal, 1642–1643. Sydney: Mitchell Library, SLNSW. p. 43.
  27. ^ Cameron-Ash, M. (2018). Lying for the Admiralty. Sydney: Rosenberg. pp. 21–22. ISBN 9780648043966.
  28. ^ a b Moon, Paul (2013). Turning Points. New Holland. p. 19. ISBN 978-1-86966-379-7.
  29. ^ Diary of Abel Tasman pp. 21–22. Random House. 2008
  30. ^ Barber, Ian G. 2012. Gardens of Rongo: applying cross-field anthropology to explain contact violence in New Zealand. Current Anthropology 53: 799–808, https://doi.org/10.1086/667834
  31. ^ a b Quanchi, Historical Dictionary of the Discovery and Exploration of the Pacific Islands, p. 237
  32. ^ "Abel Tasman's great voyage". Tai Awatea-Knowledge Net. Archived from the original on 25 April 2012. Retrieved 14 September 2011.
  33. ^ "National Archives". Archived from the original on 20 April 2008.
  34. ^ Robbie Whitmore. "Abel Janszoon Tasman – New Zealand in History – Holland 1603–1659". history-nz.org. Archived from the original on 22 October 2018. Retrieved 31 August 2015.
  35. ^ A translation of part of Visscher's memoir may be read on pp. 24–27 of Andrew Sharp, The voyages of Abel Janszoon Tasman, Oxford: Clarendon, 1968, p. 82, n. 1.
  36. ^ Nationaal Archief, Den Haag, Aanwinsten Eerste Afdeling, nummer toegang, inventarisnummer 121
  37. ^ Cameron-Ash, M. (2018). Lying for the Admiralty. Rosenberg. pp. 21–22. ISBN 9780648043966.
  38. ^ "Stamporama Discussions: 1963 4/- & 1966 40 cent Tasman and his ship the "Heemskerk"". stamporama.com. Archived from the original on 21 December 2019. Retrieved 7 February 2023.
  39. ^ "Image: 0015370.jpg, (378 × 378 px)". australianstamp.com. Archived from the original on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 31 August 2015.
  40. ^ "MAP | Carten dese landen Zin ontdeckt bij de compangie ontdeckers behaluen het norder deelt van noua guina ende het West Eynde van Java dit Warck aldus bij mallecanderen geuoecht ut verscheijden schriften als mede ut eijgen beuinding bij abel Jansen Tasman. Ano 1644 dat door order van de E.d.hr. gouuerneur general Anthonio van diemens [cartographic material] : [Bonaparte Tasman map]". State Library of New South Wales. Retrieved 28 April 2022. Tasman, Abel Janszoon, 1603?-1659. : 1644.|
  41. ^ a b "The tasman map". Discover Collections. State Library of New South Wales. 2012.
  42. ^ a b c d Hooker, Brian N. (November 2015). "New Light on the Origin of the Tasman-Bonaparte Map". The Globe (78). Archived from the original on 4 July 2021. Retrieved 8 August 2016 – via Informit.
  43. ^ a b c Patton, Maggie (2014). Pool, David (ed.). Tasman's Legacy. Canberra. pp. 140–142. ISBN 9780642278098. {{cite book}}: |work= ignored (help)CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  44. ^ a b Jeans, D.N. (1972). Historical Geography of New South Wales to 1901. Reed Education. p. 24. ISBN 0589091174.
  45. ^ a b c d Anderson, G (2001). The Merchant of the Zeehaen: Isaac Gilsemans and the voyages of Abel Tasman. Wellington: Te Papa Press. pp. 155–158. ISBN 0909010757.
  46. ^ "Tasman Map in the Mitchell Vestibule". State Library of NSW. 28 January 2016. Retrieved 7 February 2023.
  47. ^ Kevin, Catherine. "Melocco, Galliano (1897–1971)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. National Centre of Biography, Australian National University – via Australian Dictionary of Biography.
  48. ^ Kevin, Catherine (2005). "Melocco, Galliano (1897–1971)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. National Centre of Biography, Australian National University. Archived from the original on 19 August 2016. Retrieved 9 August 2016.

Sources edit

External links edit