Thursday, March 4, 2010
The Abel Tasman
Captain Cook, the English sailor, was the first European to actually land on New Zealand which is why New Zealand is part of the British commonwealth. However, a Dutch sailor, Abel Tasman, was the first European to come to New Zealand. The story, according to both Abel Tasman’s journal and Maori cave carvings is this:
Abel Tasman and his men sailed to New Zealand arriving at the top west corner on the South Island. When they pulled into the area the Maori chief noticed 2 large ships in the bay. They described the ships as large monsters carrying white ghosts (the Maori had never seen white people before). The chief decided to check out if they were friendly or not and paddles out in his canoe and blew his conch shell. Abel Tasman responded to this by playing a song on his trumpet. The chief then left thinking that they were not friendly and was to prepare for war. Abel Tasman, however thought all was well as prepared to go to land the next day. The next morning, as Abel Tasman and his men prepared to go ashore they saw that the whole beach was full of Maori warriors doing the Haka. Abel mistook this as a greeting party since he was too far out to be intimidated and sent a group of his finest men in a small boat over to the other ship to alert the men that they were to go to shore to greet the friendly tribe. The Maori took this to be that the giant monster (Abel’s ship) had a baby monster (the small boat) full of baby demons. The hopped in their canoe and rammed into the baby monster knocking the men out. They then clubbed the men in the head killing them. Abel Tasman then realized that the Maori meant to kill them and left the bay. The bay was then called Murderers Bay for a while until recently when it was changed to Golden Bay (since tourists were scared to go to a place called Murderers Bay). Abel Tasman got his fame when the National Park in that part of the country was named for him, as was the sea that separates New Zealand from Australia.
Shawn and I went to the Abel Tasman yesterday and did a full day kayaking trip which was awesome. We kayaked to the marine reserve where we were surrounded by seals! We went through tunnels and caves, into estuaries and at the end, we tied our kayaks together and made a sail out of our paddles and a tarp and sailed the rest of the way in. It was a wonderful day in a wonderful part of the world. Also, while looking at the seals we learned that every morning the seals rub their whole bodies down. It looks like they are showing off but really they are rubbing an oil that they secrete all over themselves which waterproofs their body for the day!