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Drawing of Murderer's Bay (Golden Bay), New Zealand


Drawing of Murderer's Bay (Golden Bay), New Zealand

Gilsemans, Isaac

On 13 December the Zeehaen and Heemskerck sighted what we now know as the South Island of New Zealand. After sailing along its northwest coast for several days the ships anchored on 18th December in what is now Golden Bay. Here the expedition’s leadership resolved to find a place to go ashore and look for supplies. A small crew sent out observed boats off the coast and signs of life on the shore. The Maori they had encountered shouted words they could not understand and blew on their horns. The Dutch blew their trumpets in answer.-The next day, on 19th December, this would turn out to be part of a fatal misunderstanding. The blowing of horns had been a challenge to the Dutch, and the Dutch’ answer was not taken as a friendly greeting, but as a challenge to combat. Thus, the next morning a light boat with 13 Maori set out and came close to the Zeehaen. The Dutch crew showed them their trade wares of linen, nails and knives and gestured them to come on board. The Maori boat sailed back, and soon afterwards several more boats filled with 17 men each and another with 13 men approached the Dutch ships. The Dutch, still believing they were being received friendly, set out a small boat from the Zeehaen which was soon attacked by one of the Maori boats. Four crew members of the Zeehaen died in the assault, while three others managed to swim towards a new boat sent to rescue them. The Dutch ships fired on the Maori with muskets and cannons. The Dutch ships raised their anchors and sailed off, firing their cannon at Maori boats approaching the ships, hitting one Maori and sending other ships back to the shore. The Dutch called the place they’d anchored the Murderer’s Bay because of this violent encounter. Today it is known as Golden Bay.-Isaac Gilsemans, supercargo on board the Zeehaen, is commonly identified as the author of this drawing of Murderer’s Bay (Golden Bay) and the encounter with the Maori in Abel Tasman’s journal. The highly detailed drawings show the people encountered and their boats, as well as their dress style. The letters depict the following: A: The Dutch ships; B: The Maori boats which approached the Dutch ships; C: The small boat of Zeehaen, which was attacked by the Maori; D: Depicts in detail the Maori boats, its crew and their dress style; E: The Dutch ships departing Murderer’s Bay; F: The second boat sent by the Dutch to retrieve the first, which had been attacked.

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Sources and literature

Posthumus Meyjes, De Reizen van Abel Janszoon Tasman en Franchoys Jacobszoon Visscher, ter nadere ontdekking van het Zuidland (Australië) in 1642 - 1644. (1919)