Abel Tasman

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Abel Tasman
Abel Tasman - Explorer (1603 - 1659)

Abel Janszoon Tasman was a Dutch explorer who spent much of his life working for the Dutch East India Company. He was predominantly based in Batavia (modern day Jakarta) and, after patrolling the area for smugglers and rebels, he turned to exploration. His expeditions led him to places such as Australia, Tasmania, New Zealand, Tonga and Fiji.

This page details facts about Abel Tasman's life and the events that shaped his history.

Abel Tasman the Explorer - Fun Facts for Kids !
Abel Tasman Fact   1: In 1603 Abel Janszoon Tasman was born in Lutjegast, in The Netherlands. There are no records of his early family or early life.
Abel Tasman Fact   2: He married Claesgie Meyndrix, and had a daughter, Claesjen. It is unclear when this marriage took place, however Claesgie Meyndrix died and, in 1632, Abel Tasman married Jannetje Tjaerts.

Abel Tasman Fact   3: Shortly after his second marriage, Abel Tasman went to the East Indies as a sailor for the Dutch East India Company. In February 1634 he gained the rank of First Mate and in May of the same year he was made Captain of the ‘Mocha’.
Abel Tasman Fact   4: Abel Tasman was engaged in patrolling the East Indies, on the lookout for rebels and smugglers, when he landed on Ceram (now Seram). This ill-judged landing resulted in tragedy when several of his men were slaughtered by the island’s natives. Abel Tasman left the East Indies and arrived back in the Netherlands in 1637.
Abel Tasman Fact   5: In 1638 Abel Tasman headed back to the East Indies as Captain of the Engel, accompanied by his wife. He resumed his previous role until, in 1639, he was appointed second in command of an expedition to seek out islands that were believed to exist to the east of Japan.
Abel Tasman Fact   6: The two-ship expedition, commanded by Matthijus Quast, left in June 1639. The expedition was beset by a large death toll (believed to have been caused by disease) and Abel Tasman returned in November 1639.
Abel Tasman Fact   7: In August 1642 he was given command of a two ship expedition to explore the seas to the south and east. Tasman was accompanied by Franchoijs Visscher, an experience pilot.
Abel Tasman Fact   8: The two small ships, the ’Heemskerck’ and the ‘Zeehaen’, sailed from Batavia (now Jakarta) on 14 August 1642. Heading west, Abel Tasman sailed to Mauritius where the expedition remained for a month. Having carried out repairs to the ships and taken on supplies, Abel Tasman headed south.
Abel Tasman Fact   9: In early November the expedition was forced to head north east by the freezing conditions that they had encountered. On 24 November 1642 Abel Tasman discovered a land that he named Van Diemen’s Land. This land, named after the Governor General of Batavia, was later renamed Tasmania in honour of Tasman's achievements.
Abel Tasman Fact 10: On 3 December 1642 he claimed the land for the Netherlands after planting a Dutch flag near North Bay. On 4 December the expedition continued eastward and, on 13 December, became the first Europeans to see the South Island of New Zealand.
Abel Tasman Fact 11: Abel Tasman believed it to be a part of South America and named it ‘Staten Landt’. The expedition sailed further north and anchored in what is now known as Golden Bay. Abel Tasman and his men became the first Europeans to encounter the Maori when they approached Tasman’s ships in boats.
Abel Tasman Fact 12: When Abel Tasman put a small boat, with seven crewmen aboard, into the water the Maori attacked it leaving three dead and a fourth dying from his wounds. Tasman named this bay Murderers Bay.
Abel Tasman Fact 13: Leaving the bay behind, the expedition sailed east and reached the North Island’s Manawatu coast the following day. Crossing the strait that would later be called Cook Strait, the expedition anchored to the east of Stephens and D’Urville islands where they celebrated the first Christmas Dinner in New Zealand while sheltering from a storm.
Abel Tasman Fact 14: Abel Tasman and his fleet continued sailing along the west coast of the North Island to Cape Maria Van Diemen, named after the Governor General of Batvia’s wife. They continued on to the Three Kings group of islands where they decided to put in for water. They changed their minds after they encountered heavy surf and a rocky shore. They were also deterred by natives shouting and throwing stones at them.
Abel Tasman Fact 15: Abel Tasman sailed north east and, on 21 January 1643, landed at the Tonga Islands where he was able to replenish their supplies. Continuing on, they passed the Fijian Islands before exploring part of New Guinea’s north coast and arriving back at Batavia on 15 June 1643.
Abel Tasman Fact 16: The expedition was deemed a success, however it was felt that Abel Tasman could have investigated the discovered lands more completely. Abel Tasman and his men were given a modest reward for their efforts.
Abel Tasman Fact 17: On 29 February 1644 Abel Tasman, once again accompanied by Visscher, sailed along the New Guinea coast and headed for the north coast of Australia. While searching between Carpentaria and De Witt’s Land  for a route to the South Sea, they mapped the north coast of Australia.
Abel Tasman Fact 18: Having convinced himself that the route didn’t exist, Abel Tasman returned to Batavia where, as a reward, he had his rank of Commander confirmed. He also received a substantial increase in his pay which was backdated to 1642, when he was originally given the title of Commander.

Abel Tasman Fact 19:
In 1647, having been made Council of Justice at Batavia, Abel Tasman successfully completed a mission to deliver letters to the King of Siam (now known as Thailand).

Abel Tasman Fact 20:
In May 1648 Abel Tasman commanded a fleet of eight ships sent to raid Spanish ships carrying silver from the New World. In January 1649, on his return, he was removed from office for the ill treatment of one of his crew. In January 1651 Abel Tasman was reinstated.

Abel Tasman Fact 21:
Shortly after his reinstatement, he retired and began trading as a merchant. On 10 October 1659 Abel Tasman died in Batavia.

Abel Tasman the Explorer (1603 - 1659) Fun Facts Info for Kids !

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