Abel Tasman in our history

Remembering 1642 and the meeting of two worlds

Golden Bay/Mohua is where New Zealand’s earliest recorded event took place, an event marked by a national monument above Ligar Bay, about 8km from Takaka.

On 18 December 1642, Abel Tasman and his crew on two ships, the Heemskerck and the Zeehaen sailed into Golden Bay/Mohua, five days after they had first sighted land. From their calm anchorage off Wharawharangi Bay they saw signs of life: fires around the coast and advancing waka and warriors.

This was the first meeting between Ngati Tumatakokiri and people of another race, and they shared no language. As events unfolded the following morning, the meeting ended in confrontation and death, and Tasman sailed off, to the shelter of Rangitoto d’Urville Island.

Golden Bay Museum is home to New Zealand’s permanent display to Tasman’s voyage of discovery and the first meeting of two peoples. It includes a scale model diorama of the ships and waka, a larger scale model of the Heemskerck, a commemorative quilt and, most recently, a computer interactive, paintings and supporting material. Visitors can purchase the associated book Strangers in Mohua (published in 2000; for details CLICK HERE) and cards reproduced from Tasman’s journal.


Abel Tasman’s 1642/43 voyage of discovery brought new knowledge to the world. The first charts, images and descriptions of Maori (in Golden Bay/Mohua) informed others of the existence of New Zealand and its people.

If you would like to find out more about Tasman’s voyage, here are some links to follow:

Abel Tasman 1642

Robert Jenkin’s site

 “Six Boats” Project

 Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand

 The Prow.org.nz (Stories of the Top of the South)