December 13, 2011 - Tasman “Discovers” New Zealand

– 1642

On this date in 1642, an expedition of exploration sighted a group of islands in the South Pacific that were previously unknown to Europeans. The leader of the expedition, Dutch navigator Abel Tasman, is given the credit for the discovery—but of course he wasn't the first person to set eyes on the islands we now call New Zealand.

As a matter of fact, the islands had been settled by people hundreds of years before Tasman's expedition. As a matter of fact, the Polynesian people who lived on what we now call South Island attacked the Dutch crew members who were trying to land on the island—and killed several of them!
This is a drawing made by Tasman's artist
about the skirmish
with the South Islanders...

Either the trumpet signals exchanged by the Dutch were misinterpreted as a battle cry, or the South Islanders were smart enough to know that the Europeans would make trouble for them and their way of life.

Tasman didn't try to land a second time, and it wasn't until English explorer James Cook revisited New Zealand in the late 18th century that Europeans became interested in making a permanent colony. In 1840 Great Britain annexed the islands.

Learn about the Maori, the native people of New Zealand who settled the islands around 1250 or 1300 C.E. Here is a great video. 

Crafts 4 Kids has several Maori-inspired crafts. 

Also on this date:

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