Abel Tasman

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Abel Tasman bigraphy, stories - Dutch explorer

Abel Tasman : biography

1 January 1603. – 10 October 1659

Abel Janszoon Tasman ( 1603–1659) was a Dutch seafarer, explorer and merchant, best known for his voyages of 1642 and 1644 in the service of the VOC (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie) (United East India Company). He was the first known European explorer to reach the islands of Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania) and New Zealand, and to sight the Fiji islands. His navigator François Visscher, and his merchant Isaack Gilsemans, mapped substantial portions of Australia, New Zealand and some Pacific Islands.

Second Pacific voyage

With three ships on his second voyage (Limmen, Zeemeeuw and the tender Braek) in 1644, he followed the south coast of New Guinea eastwards. He missed the Torres Strait between New Guinea and Australia, and continued his voyage along the Australian coast. He mapped the north coast of Australia making observations on the land, called New Holland, and its people.

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 received modestly, the company was upset to a degree that Tasman didn’t fully explore the lands he found, and decided that a more "persistent explorer" should be chosen for any future expeditions. 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.

Tasman’s life span

Multiple places have been named after Tasman, including:

  • the Australian island Tasmania, renamed after him, formerly Van Diemen’s land. It includes features such as:
    • the Tasman Peninsula
    • the Tasman Bridge
    • the Tasman Highway
  • the Tasman Sea
  • in New Zealand:
    • the Tasman Glacier
    • Tasman Lake
    • the Tasman River
    • Mount Tasman
    • the Abel Tasman National Park
    • Tasman Bay
    • the Tasman District

Also named after Tasman are:

  • Abel Tasman Drive, in Takaka.
  • the Abel Tasman Memorial in Takaka.
  • The former passenger/vehicle ferry Abel Tasman
  • The Able Tasmans – an indie band from Auckland, New Zealand.
  • Tasman, a layout engine for Internet Explorer
  • 6594 Tasman (1987 MM1), a main-belt asteroid
  • Tasman Drive in San Jose, California and its Tasman light rail station

His portrait has been on 4 New Zealand postage stamp issues, on a 1992 5 NZD coin, and on one 1985 Australian postage stamphttp://www.australianstamp.com/images/large/0015370.jpg

Later life

On 2 November 1644 Abel Tasman was appointed a member of the Council of Justice at 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 in October 1659 and was survived by his second wife and a daughter by his first wife. The poor in Lutjegast received the small amount of only 25 guilders. http://www.history-nz.org/discovery1.html

First Pacific voyage

Abel Tasman was born in 1603 in Lutjegast in what is now the province of Groningen, the Netherlands. In 1633, Tasman went to Batavia in service of the VOC; four years later he was back in Amsterdam. Tasman signed on for another ten years and took his wife along to Batavia. In 1639 Tasman was sent as second in command of an exploring expedition in the north Pacific under Matthijs Quast. His fleet included the ships Engel and Gracht and reached Fort Zeelandia (Dutch Formosa) and Deshima.