The Famous Explorers Of New Zealand

New Zealand is a part of the world that has only been touched by western influence in recent years.The first explorers to this part of the world were Polynesian navigators, some of whom would go on to become the Maori tribespeople.When Captain Cook first charted the area, he noted how similar in appearance and custom the locals were to the people he’d encountered in Polynesia.

It was undoubtedly later European settlers who had a greater impact on shaping the country we know today, as their arrival was assuredly far more destructive.Let’s take a look at some of the explorers whose efforts went into uncovering this part of the world, and making it into the English speaking

Abel Tasman

This dutch explorer was active during the mid-17th century, and was the first European explorer to reach New Zealand and Tasmania, and to sight Fiji.Born in 1603 in a small village in the north of the Netherlands, Tasman sailed in the service of the Dutch East India Company.He reached the west coast of Tasmania in 1642 before proceeding south.It wasn’t until much later that it was determined the Tasmania was, in fact, an island.

The eastward journed from Tasmania to New Zealand was a rough one; in his diary the Dutchman credited his compass as the only thing standing between him and a watery death.They sighted land on the 13th December, 1642, and in doing so became the first Europeans to encounter the South Island of New Zealand.

James Cook

Of course, no list of Explorers of New Zealand would be complete without mention of James Cook.This yorkshireman’s first voyage came in 1768, when the admiralty commanded the then-lieutenant to head to the pacific and observe the transit of Venus near Tahiti.This task was completed, though it wasn’t quite as conclusive as the admiralty had hoped.With that done, Cook opened up a second set of sealed instructions, which commanded him to head south and chart the coast of New Zealand and eastern Australia.The mission was a scientific one, but also a commercial one – and thus Cook’s instructions were to take careful note of any resources, and how suitable the land was for settlement by the British.

Jean Francois Maris de Surville

The British weren’t the only global power with their eyes on this part of the world.The French sent their own expedition with much the same purpose as Cook’s, and just as Cook was making his way around the country’s northern tip in 1769, this French explorer was just forty-kilometres south west.He would reach the west coast of the country just a few weeks later, and spend two weeks in Doubtless Bay, where his crew enjoyed Christmas.The ship’s chaplain conducted the first Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services on the island.It was Cook, however, who had named this part of the country, sailing straight past it and noting in his journal ‘doubtless a bay’.The prediction proved accurate, and the name stuck.

Marc Joseph Marion du Fresne

This French Explorer made several rather seismic discoveries in New Zealand, not least of which was the discovery of Mount Taranaki in 1772.Without knowing that James Cook had already named the mountain three years earlier, he named it ‘Pic Marscarin’.The mountain currently goes by its traditional Maori name.

Du Fresne’s exploration of New Zealand’s islands is perhaps most notable for the grisly way that it ended.The French ship had established fairly cordial relations with the indigenous population.Relations quickly soured, however, when the Maori began sneaking around the ship and stealing supplies.Du Fresne, along with a posse of crewmembers, went to the local village, and never returned.Their cannibalised remains were found several months later.The episode made a severe impact on the islands’ reputation in the west, and considerably dampened the enthusiasm to colonise them.

Nowadays, however, settlers to New Zealand find themselves met with a far more hospitable reception.The island is among the most welcoming places to settle on earth, with much of the population speaking English and welcoming of immigrants.If you’d like to make your home in this part of the world, then you’ll need to get through the notorious ‘points-based’ immigration system.The best way of accomplishing this is to find work before you make your move – fortunately, there are myriad jobs in New Zealand up for grabs – and so emigrating to New Zealand is easier than it ever has been!