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Monday, August 15, 2005
Where is the Old Zealand?

In the dictionary, "Zealand" says the following: "largest island of Denmark, between Jutland and Sweden."

The first European to land on New Zealand was Abel Rasman, a Dutchman. Now we know that all of the famous explorers blundered upon their discoveries, but this was too much. Did Thomas actually name his island after the wrong country? Was he a traitor?

Not quite. Tasman worked for the powerful Dutch East India Company, which wanted to find new trading partners willing to part with gold or silver in exchange for Dutch cloth and iron (now you know why the Dutch East India Company was successful).

Dutch explorers had already found Australia, which they called "New Holland". But they didn't realize that it was an island., the company that New Holland might extend south to where Antartica is located. Abel Tasman didn't find the long continent he expected, but he and his crew were the first to discover several islands. The first was what Tasman named Van Diemen's Islands, (after his Governor General) -- its name as later changed to Tasmania, for obvious reasons.

Sailing east from Van Diemen's, Tasman bumped into a big land mass that, much to his consternation, was occupied by Maori tribesman who did'n't cotton to European intruders. The Maoris paddled up to the strange boats in their canoes, shouting and sounding combat trumpets. The Dutch thought they were being met by a welcoming committee and blew their trumpets back! Eventually, the Dutch did get the message when tribesmen killed several of Tasman's men and made it impossible for the crew to explore the land.

Tasman's diaries record that he named his discovery "Staten Landt", Tasman theorized that this island was actually only a small part of a great continent stretching all the way from the South Pacific tot he foot of South America. So he named his discovery after Staten, the land off the southern tip of Argentina.

The very next year, another Dutchman discovered that Staten was an island and not part of the South America, so Staten Landt no longer was suitable name for Tasman's discovery. The Dutch renamed the island "Zeeland" (sea land), not after the Danish island but after a province of the same name back in Holland.

Probably because of the Maori's unfriendly greeting, the Dutch didn't follow up Tasman's discovery until Captain James Cook's expedition in 1769. But Tasman, one of the few explorers not to impose his name upon any of his discoveries, was later honored by having not only the island Tasmania but a bay and a sea named after him.

(abstracted from the book,WHY DOGS HAVE WET NOSES? By Bill Sinesky of Orville, Ohio and David Feldman)
posted by infraternam meam @ 3:47 AM  
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Name: infraternam meam
Home: Chicago, United States
About Me: I am now at the prime of my life and have been married for the past 25 years. Sickly at times, but wants to see the elixir vita, so that I will be able to see my grandchildren from my two boys.
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