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Drawing of the Dutch visit to Tongatapu


Drawing of the Dutch visit to Tongatapu

Gilsemans, Isaac

On the December 20th the expedition of Abel Tasman encountered two large islands. These were Tongatapu, which Tasman named Amsterdam and ‘Eua, which was named Middelburg. The expedition did not attempt to land at the latter island, but anchored at the northwest coast of Tongatapu. Here they would remain anchored for several days from 21st January until 23rd January. In contrast to the earlier events in New Zealand, this time the meeting was friendly and the Zeehaen and Heemskerck could finally restock their supplies of fruits, vegetables and livestock, especially fowls and hogs. There was not much water to obtain, however. For three days meetings took place, in which gifts were exchanged and bartering for goods took place. The Dutch mainly bartered linen cloth, nails, beads, knives and looking glasses for food supplies. The chief or king of the place was received on board, as well as many other Tonganese.-Isaac Gilsemans, supercargo on board the Zeehaen, drew the events of these days in Abel Tasman’s journal. He noted the various places, people in events with letters. ‘G’ is where the Dutch boats went to shore to obtain fresh water. ‘H’ is the place where the Tonganese approached the Dutch with hogs and coconuts. ‘I’ shows the crew standing watch. ‘K’ shows the king’s residence. ‘L’ is the bathing place of the king and nobles. ‘M’ is a drawing of local ships. ‘N’ shows the people of the island, their ways of standing and sitting and their clothing. ‘O’ shows the bay where the king lives, which the Dutch named the Maria Bay, after the wife of VOC Governor-General Anthony van Diemen.

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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)