In December 1642 Dutch navigator Abel Tasman became the first European explorer to sight the island group in the South Pacific now known as New Zealand. In his attempt to land several of his crew were killed by local tribesmen who believed the landing was an attempt to invade or do battle. Although he sighted the islands none of his crew that stepped ashore survived the landing.
Prior to his arriving there he had earlier discovered what is now called Tasmania. The island located off the south eastern edge of Australia. Tasman named the newly discovered island van Diemen’s Land. It was later named Tasmania in his honour. His name was also given to the stretch of water between Australia and New Zealand, it now being referred to as the Tasman Sea.
The islands of New Zealand were named after the Dutch province of Zeeland. The newly discovered land did not attract much attention from Europeans after this eventful attempted landing by Tasman. It was not until the late 18th century when English explorer captain James Cook traveled through the area and wrote detailed accounts of his findings. Following on from Cooks findings whalers, missionaries and traders followed and in 1840 the islands were formally annexed by Great Britain and the first permanent European settlement was developed at Wellington.
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