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Brian Hooker

New Zealand


Abel Tasman's Journal of His Voyage of Discovery
1642- 43

(Part 1)

Edited by

Brian Hooker

[Go to other parts via the Contents - Section A.

© Brian Hooker 2006. The text that follows is copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purposes of private study, research, criticism or review, no part may be reproduced without prior permission from the publisher. The illustrations are reproduced by courtesy of the Director, Algemeen Rijksarchief, The Hague (Aanwinsten, 1867 A III, nr. 129 A) and must not be copied or reproduced without permission from The Hague.


Editor’s preface
List of maps and illustrations
Preliminary data
Tasman’s journal of the 1642-1643 voyage
Maps and figures

Editor’s preface

The main novelty of this book is the readable and uncluttered rendition of Abel Tasman's journal of his voyage of discovery 1642 1643. It is not a fresh translation of the journal, but a fresh assembly of each entry to provide an overall understandable narrative.

During preparation of the work I compared a facsimile copy of the original journal with all known translations and a printed version in Dutch. Although some sentences or entries may have been rearranged meanings have not been interfered with. Irregular use of capitals and periods have been altered to conform to modern English style and allow a better flow of the account. The original journal is held in the State Archives at The Hague in the Netherlands.
Since 1860 many scholars have produced works either on the complete voyage or sections of the 1642-43 voyage. The definitive work on Tasman’s voyages remains Andrew Sharp’s book The voyages of Abel Janszoon Tasman (Clarendon, 1968). Good as Sharp’s book is, its value for the average reader is lessened by the journal of the 1642-43 voyage being a literal translation and difficult to read. Further problems with Sharp’s book are the arrangement of un-numbered pages containing the illustrations associated with the 1642-43 voyage and the insertion of cartographic comments within the pages of the journal.

The illustrations in the present work are reproduced with the original Dutch legends but with captions in English. In many examples the words in the legends have been rearranged to provide an intelligible description.

Another novelty, is the extra attention given to Tasman’s navigational procedures and aids. It had previously not been realized, that Tasman reckoned latitude from time to time through the “Regiment for the Southern Cross.”

The globe Tasman carried with him, has been identified beyond doubt and a section is illustrated. Also additional details of Antonio Herrera’s book that Tasman carried with him are provided. Included in this book is an engraving of a Polynesian vessel a version of which is reproduced in this book.

An explanation is necessary in regard to place names. In general I have changed many of the place names in use in Tasman’s time, to current names, as used by the National Geographic Society. Names changed in this way are italicized. In regard to names given by Tasman, I have retained these, but provided footnotes to relate the names to modern names. Thus the reader can refer to a modern map, to follow Tasman’s progress during his voyage.

Readers interested in further elucidation of the navigational and cartographic aspects of Tasman’s voyage of 1642-43 and other journals associated with the voyage, should consult Sharp’s book.

BH. January 2005 -revised August 2006

List of maps and illustrations

[NB. The following maps and illustrations are provided in Part 3 -go via the Contents and Section A.]

Map 1. Map showing the track of Tasman’s ships 14 August 1642 to 15 June 1643, Batavia to Batavia.
Map 2. A. Herrera’s Map of New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and the East Indies, 1601.
Map 3. Detail displaying the central Pacific area, from W. J. Blaeu’s 1602 globe (233 mm) revised after 1618,
Map 4. Hessel Gerritsz’s map of the Pacific Ocean dated 1622.
Map 5. Hessel Gerritsz’s map of parts of Australia and parts of the East Indies (1618-1628).
Map 6. Map showing Le Maire’s track across the Pacific, 1616.
Map 7. Chart of part of New Zealand by Francoys Jacobsz Visscher, 1643.
Map 8. The Tasman “Bonaparte Map,” c. 1695.
Figure 1. A Polynesian sailing vessel observed by the Dutch explorers Le Maire and Schouten, 1616.

Preliminary data and notes
Geographical names: I have used modern names as displayed in maps published by the National Geographic Society or printed in volumes of the British Admiralty Pilot series. There are a few exceptions: e.g. Batavia for Jakarta, Van Diemens Land for Tasmania, and Staten Landt for New Zealand, have been left unaltered. Using a modern map, the reader can follow the course of Tasman’s voyage.
Punctuation: I have changed the punctuation and the use of capitals in many entries throughout the journal, to clarify passages and to allow for easier reading. However, these changes in no way interfere with the meaning of any passage.

Longitude: Tasman reckoned longitude eastward from the Peak of Tenerife in the Canary Islands, which is 16o 39' westward of the meridian of Greenwich. Heeres (1898) says 16o 46' westward which is incorrect.

Watches: The first watch was from 8 pm till midnight. the second or dogwatch from midnight till 4 am and the day watch from 4 am till 8 am. One glass was equal to half an hour.
First person: Not all the entries in the journal were written up by Tasman himself. An entry reading (for example) “Tasman did …” indicates another hand.

Resolutions: Resolutions mentioned in many entries have never been found.

Orientation of maps: Maps in the journal are shown with north at the top.

In the journal the daily entries are in civil time measured from midnight to midnight but occasionally entries after midnight are included in the entry for the previous day.

Distances. The figures of miles in the journal are fairly certain to be according to Snellius’ measurement of the German mile at the rate of 15 to a degree, namely 7,158 metres, accompanied with a more accurate later measurement of 7,408 metres. If the journal figures of miles are multiplied by 4 ½ the sum will give the approximate equivalent in statute miles.

Bearings of geographical features. Meyjes (1919, 199) points out, that in the journal, the bearings of the topographical features were not corrected for compass variation.

The illustrations in the journal. It is virtually certain that Isaac Gilsemans was the author of the original drawings in the State Archives Journal. The journal sketches, in colour, are all copies of originals now lost. A reference to Gilsemans in a resolution shows that he had some knowledge of the ‘drawing of lands.’

Copy of the original manuscript. The journal on which this work is based, is a copy of the original manuscript now lost, made after the expedition returned to Batavia.

Preparations for the voyage of 1642-3

Anthony van Diemen, the enterprising Governor General at Batavia [fn. Jakarta] (1636-45), and the Council of the Dutch East India Company, shared a desire to expand their knowledge of lands in southern latitudes, which the Dutch had discovered in the thirty five years since the first contacts in the north of Australia.

The main reason for voyages was a wish to extend the Company’s field of commercial operations and thus increase its profits. But there was also an interest in finding alternative sailing routes which would be open for shipping throughout the year. The imaginative van Diemen’s commercial awareness, gave him the foresight of a statesman.

The first discovery of a part of Australia occurred in 1605-6. Willem Jansz and Jan Roossengin came in the Dutch vessel Duyfken from the East Indies along the south New Guinea coast and thence to the east side of the Gulf of Carpentaria on the north coast of Australia in about latitude 12¼o S. They sailed along the coast to Cape Keerweer, about a degree of latitude further south, and then returned to the East Indies after passing close to the western side of the islands and reefs masking the western entrances to Torres Strait. They arrived back about May 16062.

The year 1642 appeared to be the right time to unravel the remaining mysteries of the southland. There was a determination to resolve this question finally. The problem required cautious and considered investigation. These plans culminated in the following resolution of 1 August 1642, by which the voyage to the southland was initiated.


  Like our predecessors the Governors-General Jan Pietersen Coen, Pieter de Carpentier, Hendrick Brouwer, we also favour a mission to sail to the partially known and as yet unnavigated south and east land to explore it more fully and to find an opening to some important countries or at least to useful routes to established rich markets and then to exploit them fully for the advance and growth of our Company. Our superiors have not only approved of this undertaking, but have also warmly recommended the commencement of it by their urgent letters.

This resolution continued to note, that because of the demands of commerce and recent wars, there had been a scarcity of suitable ships, so that little progress in discovery had been made in the preceding years. For this new voyage of discovery the ships Heemskerck and Zeehaen were to be allocated. The whole undertaking was put under the command of Abel Janszoon Tasman and a member of the Council, Justus Schouten, was appointed to draw up the applicable sailing orders or instructions.

Tasman was at this time, an experienced and skilful sailor whose ability had been proved already in the hard and dangerous service of the Dutch East India Company. It was on the basis of his record with the Company, that he was entrusted by the Governor General with the demanding task of commanding this expedition to the southland.
Evidence to support the real motive of the expedition, is contained in a treatise prepared by Franchoijs Jacobszoon Visscher, described in the resolution as an experienced pilot and chief adviser for the planned voyage.

A copy of his Beschrzjvinge noopende het ontdecken van Suijtlandt of 22 January 1642 was handed to Tasman with the instructions for the voyage. Visscher mentions in his memorandum various alternative possibilities that could be adopted for a more thorough exploration of the southland. Briefly they can be summarized as follows:

  1 An expedition should sail by the middle of August from Batavia to Mauritius, provide itself there with the usual necessities and then sail from Mauritius to 51° - 54° S and, thereafter, set its course east till the longitude of the east coast of New Guinea or the Solomon Islands is reached. Then a northerly course should be taken to return to Batavia along the north coasts of these islands. By these means the eastern part of the southern Indian Ocean was to be explored.

2 The voyage should start in the Netherlands. After having rounded the Cape of Good Hope a course should be taken to 51° to 54° S and finally the voyage would be continued as under 1. By this plan the western part of the Indian Ocean would also be explored.

3 The ships should sail from the Netherlands to Brazil, then set their course to Le Maire Strait and push on from the east side of Staten Island on an easterly course to the longitude of the Solomon Islands. Thereby, the extent of Staten Land would be checked and the question of which lands lay in the South Pacific answered.

4 For the exploration of the southern Indian Ocean the ships should sail from the Pacific Coast with the southeast trade winds on a latitude between 12° and 15° S, on which the Solomon Islands are believed to lie. When these islands have been reached, the ships should try their best to get south to the zone of the westerly winds to reach the latitude of 50° S and finally with the aid of those winds to reach the Le Maire or Magellan Straits.

Only the first of these four possible plans was included in the instructions and then two alternative routes were suggested. Although Visscher gives no hint of what countries he thought might exist in the higher latitudes, he may well have been influenced by those contemporary maps on which "Beach" is drawn in as the northern tip of a great continent shown lying south of the Indies.

The ships of the expedition were the Heemskerck and the Zeehaen. The Heemskerck, a small pinnace of war, was the flagship. It had sailed to India in 1638 for the first time and was under the command of Yde Tjercxzoon Holman. The flute Zeehaen was under the command of Gerrit Janszoon who died late in the voyage. The Heemskerck had a crew of sixty, the Zeehaen a complement of fifty men. In addition to their own supplies, the ships carried numerous trade items for barter.

Details of the operation of this seven member council, during the voyage, are unknown. Since the minutes of their meetings have been lost the only evidence is to be drawn from entries in the journal. Tasman seems to have convened the council whenever a decision had to be taken concerning the course to be followed. This is of importance because it shows that Tasman made full use of the knowledge and views of his assistants. In the instructions, all officers and men of both ships are called upon to: "acknowledge Abel Janszoon Tasman as their commander and their leader, to respect and obey him as well as assist him in all matters with good counsel and diligent service...."

The instructions handed to Tasman follow; the translation retains the muddled and demanding tenor of the document.

  Instructions for the skipper-commander Abel Janszoon Tasman, the chief mate Franchoijs Jacobszoon Visscher, and the Council of the ship Heemskerck, and the flute Zeehaen, assigned to the discovering of the unknown and found southland, the southeast coast of New Guinea, together with the islands located thereabout.

Up to a hundred and fifty years ago, only about one third of the globe (divided into Europe, Asia, and Africa) had been known, and that the kings of Castile and Portugal (Ferdinand Catholicus and don Emanuel) have caused the unknown part of the earth usually named America or New World, (and by the cosmographers divided into North and South America) to be discovered by the very famous sea heroes Christopher Columbus and Americus Vesputius (to their undying glory), as also about the same time, the unexplored coasts and islands of Africa, and East India were first sailed to by the renowned Vasco da Gama and other Portuguese captains.

What inestimable riches, profitable trading, useful exchanges, fine dominions, great might and powers, the said kings have brought to their kingdoms and crowns by this discovering and its sequel and also untold blind heathens have come to the salutary light of the Christian religion. And it is also well known to the experienced, and deemed most highly laudable, by all knowledgeable men, appropriately served other European princes as an example for the discovery of many northern lands.

Nevertheless, up till now, there has not been any serious attempt by any Christian kings, princes, or republics to discover the remaining unknown part of the globe (that situated in the south, and probably almost as large, as is the old or new world). Although it is to be judged for good reasons, many attractive and fruitful lands are located therein, as being in the cold, temperate and hot zones, where necessarily there must be many inhabited places, in the pleasant clime and attractive sky, and because in many lands, situated north of the equinoctial (in the latitude of I5 to 40 degrees) many rich mines, and other treasures are found.

So it is beyond doubt, similar fruitful and rich lands are also situated south of the equator, as the gold- and silver-rich provinces of Peru, Chile, Monomotapa or Soffala (all situated south of the equator) show and indicate as clear examples. Thus it is certainly to be hoped, that the outlay and trouble, which must be incurred in the discovery of so large a part of the world, can be recompensed with certain fruits of gain, and undying fame.

This being so then and since no European colony is situated more conveniently for this very evident discovering, than the town Batavia (like a middle point of the known and unknown Oriental India), so were the Hon Generals, Jan Pietersen Coen, and Henrick Brouwer (our predecessors) in the time of their governing, well inclined to make despatch for discovering of the unknown southern lands, which was prevented by more pressing voyages. Likewise, we also, during our government have inclined greatly thereto, this matter being also recommended as very useful by our superiors.

So it is that we made a survey in the Council of India of the Company’s present naval power, and have found that without curtailment of more important expeditions (war or trade) two suitable ships can be conveniently detached from their immediate duties, and accordingly resolved, no longer to put off the long attempted discovering of the unknown southland, but at once to put it in hand; and to use for it the ship Heemskerk with the flute Zeehaen (duly supplied with all necessaries). We have committed it to the charge of you people, who thereto, are both fitted and desirous, in trust that you will properly and carefully conduct this important voyage with good management, necessary courage and due patience, so that on your return you will aim to answer before us, to our satisfaction.

We shall make no extensive account of the various ways, suggested to us in writing, by expert pilots, on the discovery of the southland, but refer to the copies of the same attached hereto, of which you can make use, according to circumstances. And the following shall serve you as the best way for rule and instruction. Nevertheless, with such understanding, that it may be corrected at all times according to requirement of time, place and occasion, with advice of the council, as and when the service of the Company shall require for the furtherance of our purpose, which we leave committed to your trusted management and experience.

You shall then, in the morning, early, after completion of mustering. go under sail together, and endeavour to come out of Selat Sunda as quickly as possible, setting course in order to get soon into the southeast trade wind, with which you shall take your way westward to the island of Mauritius (running in sight of Rodrigues) and anchor within the southeast harbour before the fortress of Frederick Hendrik, then deliver our accompanying letters, with the embarked goods for that island, to the commander Adriaen van der Stel.

You shall duly and quickly supply your ships with water, firewood, and supplies, but spend in that place no longer a time than 14 to 16 days, or at the most till the 12th or 15th October, taking care that the crews are duly refreshed in this time, and during it, fed only with fresh food, for which we have given to the commander van der Stel, the necessary orders. He shall be helpful to you according to ability, and as needed, permit hunting of wild animals.

As above stated, you shall, after obtaining supplies of the necessaries about mid-October, or somewhat earlier, sail from Mauritius, setting course with the trade wind as close as possible southward, as high as weather and wind shall allow, to about the south latitude of 36 to 38 degrees. Outside the easterly trade, you will get the variable winds, with which you must always make the best tack, in order to come southwards, until you come into the westerly prevailing wind, on which you shall sail as close as possible, to the south, until you encounter the unknown southland, or as far as the latitudes of 52 to 54 degrees inclusive.

And if you discover no land in such latitudes, you shall set the course to due east, and sail as far as the longitude of the east end of New Guinea, or indeed of the Solomon Islands, situated in longitude of about 220 degrees, or until you may meet with land. In such case, be it at the start, or when you have sailed more easterly, you shall sail (as said) eastward, by the discovered coast or islands, following the trend of the same.

All lands, islands, points, bights, inlets, bays, rivers, shoals, banks, sands, rivers, rocks and reefs etc., which you will meet with, and pass, you must chart thoroughly, and describe, and also the form and appearance, duly draw to which end a draughtsman has been provided for you. Also carefully noting, in what altitude or latitude, what kind of trend and distance, the coasts, islands, capes, heads or points, bays and rivers, are situated from one another. What notable mountains, as marks, hills, trees, or buildings (whereby one may know these) are to be seen thereon. Also what depths and shallows of bottoms, submerged rocks, projecting reefs at the points, shall be situated. How and by what marks these are conveniently to be avoided.

Likewise, whether the bottoms are hard, sharp, soft, flat, sloping or steep. Whether one may reach them with the lead, or not. By what marks, one finds the best anchor places in roadsteads and bays. How the openings and rivers trend in, and are to be navigated, what winds in these regions blow, how the currents run, whether ebb and flow are controlled by the moon or winds, what changing of monsoon, rain and drought you find.

Further attentively observing and noting, what expert navigators ought to observe, and can be useful in future, to the navigating of the discovered lands. The suitable time of the year, as the summer weather, long days, and short nights, will be very useful for the forthcoming discovering and observation of all the things mentioned.

Wherefore you must nowhere waste time, or consume needlessly, but use the best of the summer and good weather, when you will be able to sail on, both by night and day, which in the shortening of the days, and with dark moons, cannot be achieved, so as to get everything in sight, for which it is of the greatest importance, to discover much quickly and in short time.

As above mentioned, you shall discover the encountered land, to eastwards, or meeting with no land, follow the east course to the longitude of New Guinea, or the Solomon Islands, unless you, on mature deliberation, might find more appropriate, to sail only to the longitude of the east end of the known southland, or the islands of St Pieter and Francoijs, and then setting your course due north, to run in sight of the same, following thence the coast eastwards, so as to discover how far it extends, and whether this discovered southland is joined to New Guinea about Cape Keerweer, or is indeed separated from the other by channels or passages.

Whereupon, the north coast, by the traversing of one of the channels, could be conveniently discovered to westward, to Willem's River. But since it is to be surmised probable, these lands join one another without division, and is uncertain, if you would be able to follow its south coast, because of northeast trend, and the encountering of the easterly trade wind up to New Guinea, and thus be clearly obliged, for that purpose to go and find the westerly winds southwards. Or else to turn westward to Batavia, along the land of Eendracht. So we think the first proposed method to be better, namely to sail as far as the longitude of New Guinea or the Solomon Islands, to the east.

We say then (as above mentioned) our thought to be (in case you meet with no land in sailing eastwards to the southern latitude of 48, 52 to 54 degrees) not to seek the same more to the south, but you shall follow the east course, as far as the longitude of the east side of New Guinea and with approval of the council, thence the Solomon Islands or another 100, I50 to 200 miles farther east in order the better to be assured of a passage from the Indian Ocean into the South Sea, and to prepare the way, for finding after this conveniently a short passage to Chile.

Having come on the indicated course to the longitude of the Solomon Islands, or 100 to 200 miles farther east, and with the southeast trade wind, to discover the same on a west course, otherwise to be able to sail south or north of the islands (in case they are islands) to the east coast of New Guinea and along it, north and westward, as far as about the island of Halmahera. There, we do not doubt you will discover some channels or passages to the south, in order to pass through conveniently and advantageously, you shall try to be thereabout in the unsettled month of April, in order with the variable winds, to get through (if it is practicable) to east of Ceram and the islands Cauwer, Queij and Arou to Cape Keerweer, which is advantageous to occur before the strong blowing of the east monsoon, otherwise difficulties in getting by the south so far east, would be encountered.

Now from Cape Keerweer (located in 18 degrees) you shall navigate to westward alongside the coast of that land, as far as Willem's River (located in 21 degrees in the Eendracht Land) with the southeast trade wind (according to trend of the same) observing, writing down and noting what is indicated, heretofore, on the discovering of the unknown southland, particularly to ascertain carefully and correctly, whether between New Guinea and the land of the Eendracht, namely the aforementioned places, Cape Keerweer and Willem's River you can perceive any channels or passages to the south, on which much depends, to come quickly into the South Sea. What instructions were given in the year 1636 to Commander Gerrit Pool for the discovery of this unknown region, you can see from copy of the same, of which you may on occasion make us

From Willem's River, where we hope you will be about the month May or June of the coming year, you must direct your course for the middle of the island of Java, in order with the east monsoon to sail along the south coast of the same, and conveniently come between the west point of that land and Panaitan [Prinsen] within the strait of Selat Sunda to Batavia.

In order not to sail on any unknown lands, shoals or rocks, to prevent mishaps from these, as far as is in man's power, you shall continuously have due lookout kept, and set an appropriate reward, for him who first sees, and perceives, unknown lands or dangerous shallows, and this is as much as we have deemed necessary to instruct you of the courses and sailings, for discovering of the unknown southland. What further you may require and may happen, we shall leave to your good command, seaman's knowledge, and disposal of the council.

Proceeding then to other matters, which you on your forthcoming voyage have carefully to attend to, and to pursue, you are thus recommended in the discovering of lands, at the appropriate time and place, now and then to come to anchor, always seeking and choosing convenient bays or roadsteads, where you can lie with the least danger, for which the two accompanying tingangs will be very useful, particularly for discovering of bays, shoals, havens and rivers, etc when you have come near New Guinea and the land of the Eendracht, or in the southeast trade wind on peaceful seas.

You shall use great care, at all places, in landing with small craft, because it is apparent, the southlands are peopled with very rough wild people, for which reason you must always be well armed and carefully on guard, since in all parts of the world, it has been found by experience, no barbarous people are to be trusted, because they usually think, that the people who appear so exceedingly strange and unexpected, come only to take over their lands, which (because of carelessness and easy trust) has caused many a treacherous murder in the discovery of America.

For which reason, the barbarous people whom you may meet and come to speak with, you shall make contact with properly and amicably, small affronts of thievery, or other things, which they might visit on our people, you shall let pass unmarked, in order not to cause any enmity towards us by punishing them, but by showing of good countenances, attract them to us, so that you may the better find out, in what circumstances they and their lands are, and whether anything useful is to be got or done there.

Of the nature of the lands, what fruits and livestock be there, what sort of structure of houses, the form and appearance of the inhabitants, their clothing, weapons, customs, manners, food, livelihood, religion, government, war, and other notable things, particularly whether they are good or ill-natured. You shall as time allows, duly try to observe, showing them various samples of the goods, given for this purpose, in order to find out what wares and materials they have, and what they want of ours in return, all which you shall keenly observe, properly draw and correctly describe, keeping for this purpose a full, and suitably extensive journal, in which all your encounters are completely noted, in order therewith on your return, to be able to make an appropriate report to us.

If you visit any land populated with civilized people (as is not likely), you shall take more account of them, than of the wild savages. You shall try to get in conversation and acquaintance with the leaders and subjects, informing them, you come there to trade, showing the samples of the wares, given for this purpose, as you shall be able to see in invoice, duly observing what they esteem, and to what goods they are most attracted, particularly finding out what wares are among them, likewise about gold and silver, and if it is valued by them, representing yourself to be not eager for it, in order to keep them unaware of the value of the same. If they should give you gold or silver in any bartering, you must conduct yourself as if you did not value this specie, showing copper, spelter and lead, as if these minerals were with us, of greater value.

All insolence and hostility of the crew towards the discovered peoples, you will carefully prevent, and take care no harm is done to them in their houses, gardens, craft, property or women etc. Likewise no inhabitants brought away from their land against their will, but if any are somewhat willingly inclined thereto, you may then duly bring these hither.In case on this voyage, any rich, or for the company profitable lands, islands, or passages are discovered, then we shall in the recompensing of performed pains and labour, be not ungrateful to the leaders and all the well conducted crew, but honour with such reward as we shall find their performed services merit, on which you can altogether rely.

The ships are manned with one hundred and ten able men, namely Heemskerck with sixty and Zeehaen with fifty, and also victualled with all necessary supplies for twelve and with rice for eighteen months.

Let therefrom the ordinary ration of two meat and one bacon day a week, and one and a half mutchkins of arrack a day, be regularly distributed and all properly controlled. Two casks of strong arrack goes in each ship, and is to be distributed sparingly in the cold for the peoples’ health, but particularly use the fresh water very controlled, so that you fall into no necessitous want thereof, and in order to seek the same, are not delayed on your voyage or obliged to turn fruitless and with business unperformed.

And so that the voyage following these instructions and our good intent, may be duly controlled and performed, good order kept among the people, law and justice in accordance with the general article letter administered and furthermore what on so dangerous and long lasting a voyage may happen and demand, to the greatest advantage of the Company may be done and performed, so have we appointed the Hon Abel Janszoon Tasman, as commander of both the ships, authorising the same by this to carry the flag on Heemskerck from the main topmast, to summon the council, to preside permanently therein. Accordingly, we command and direct all officers and sailors, nobody excepted, who are appointed to the ships Heemskerck and Zeehaen, to recognize, respect, and obey, the said Abel Tasman as their commander and leader, also in all circumstances occurring, with good counsel and diligent service, to assist for the furthering of the voyage and discovery of the unknown lands as becomes vigilant and trusty servants, and as before us,- on returning each aims to be answerable.

The council of these ships shall comprise the following persons, namely:

By this council, shall all matters occurring for furthering of this voyage and carrying out of our order be controlled and determined, the commander shall in deadlock have two voices, but in matters of justice the boatswains shall also be summoned, as the order of our principals lays down, but in matters which concern the voyaging such as courses and the discovery of the lands etc, the pilot major Franchoijs Jacobszoon Visscher shall have the second voice, and advices of the same be taken in proper regard, this voyage being planned with his communication; the undermates shall also then be summoned, and have advising voices, which the commander shall gather, and decide by the most voices, taking care all resolutions are at once recorded, signed, and duly carried out, for the service of the company.

On the death of the commander Tasman (which God forbid) the skipper Yde Tjercxzoon Holman shall succeed in place of the same, and in all ways, in accordance with these instructions, like his predecessor, command, and be obeyed.

As soon as you have put to sea, you shall, in order duly to stay together, with advice of the council, draw up a good signal document, for which there is the highest relevance for the fulfilment of our project, and provides therein consideration, if through storm (which God forbid) you become separated, how most conveniently you might come together again.

In conclusion of these instructions, we shall wish you the blessing of the All-ruler, asking Him to favour you with manly courage, for fulfilling the intended discovering, and let you return safely, to the extension of His glory, repute of the fatherland, Company's service and undying honour of you all.

In the Castle Batavia the 13th August Ao 1642
And was undersigned Anthony van Diemen, Cornelis vander Lijn, Joan Maetsuijcker, Justus Schouten, Salomon Sweers, Cornelis Witsen, and Pieter Boreel.

All the mainland and islands which you shall discover, visit and land on, you must take in possession for the High and Mighty Lords States General, as Sovereign of the United Provinces, which in uninhabited lands, or which have no lord, can be secured, by the setting up of a stone as a memorial, or planting of our prince flag, for true possession, since such lands rightly belong to the finder and taker.

But in populated lands, or which have undoubtedly lords, the consent of the people or king shall be necessary in the taking of occupation and possession, which is to be fittingly achieved by amicable influence with the presenting of a small tree planted in a little earth, the joint setting up of a stone, or the placing of the prince flag in memory of their voluntary submission, or subjection, all which you shall completely record in your journal, with naming of the persons who shall be present, so as to be able in future times to serve our republic.
Done at Batavia, date as above; undersigned: In the name
of the Hon. Govr General and Councillors of India.
Justus Schouten

Summary of the voyage of 1642-43

Van Diemen and the Council of the Dutch East India Company issued the instructions for the voyage on 13 August 1642. On the following day, the Heemskerck and the Zeehaen set sail and left Batavia for Mauritius, where they arrived at Fort Frederick Hendrik, on 5 September. Even after that short period, the ships were found to be in need of repair. The governor of Mauritius, van der Stel, in a letter to his superiors, described vividly how the ships had been fitted out in a way quite inadequate for such an arduous voyage.

The expedition then headed south on 8 October. Tasman and Visscher calculated longitude by dead-reckoning; their eastings and westings were expressed in degrees of longitude east of the prime meridian passing over the Peak of Tenerife in the Canary Islands.
After reaching latitude 49 degrees south, and encountering very cold and stormy weather, it was resolved on Visscher's advice to return to 44 degrees south and steer east. This course brought the expedition to discover parts of Tasmania. After leaving the vicinity of Tasmania, it was decided to continue steering east.

Around noon on 13 December, while sailing a course east by north, Tasman sighted the west coast of the South Island in the Hokitika-Abut Head area. He shaped his course northwards, and on 18 December, the ships cast anchor in a bay. The next day, four Dutchmen were killed, when a cock boat from the Zeehaen was attacked by Maori. The bay was named "Mordenaers Baij" (Murderers Bay - modern Golden Bay).

The ships continued to follow the coast, seeking a suitable place to land and obtain provisions and water. In the area of the entrance to Cook Strait, Tasman suspected that a passage existed.

Tasman proceeded north, until on 4 January 1643, the expedition reached the northernmost point on the west coast; naming it "Caabo maria van diemen" (Cape Maria van Diemen), in honour of the wife of the governor-general at Batavia. The final name conferred was "drie koonijgh eylant" (Three Kings Islands), which they sighted on 4 January, and left the vicinity of, on 6 January.

Tasman named the western littoral of the part of the `country he discovered, "Staten Landt", in honour of the States-General of the United Provinces of the Netherlands, because he believed it was possible, but not certain, that this land joined Staten Landt east of Le Maire Strait, at the southern tip of South America.

The expedition continued on a northeasterly course, making important discoveries in the Tonga group and the Fiji Islands. Then heading west and sailing north of New Guinea, Tasman arrived back at Batavia, on 15 June 1643.

Biographical notes

Abel Janszoon Tasman was born at Lutjegast, a small village slightly west of Groningen. Records show that on 11 January 1632 Tasman described as a humble seaman and a widower was married. It is not known exactly when Tasman entered the service of the East India Company. He sailed for the east no later than 1633 probably in a ship belonging to the Amsterdam Chamber of the Company. In 1634 he served as first mate (a fairly senior position) aboard the Weesp, a flute lying at the time off the island of Amboina in the East Indies.

Soon after his appointment as first mate, on 18 May 1634, Tasman obtained his first command. He became master of the Mocha, a jacht. In 1636, Tasman arrived in Batavia and in December of that year he left the East Indies aboard the Banda bound for the Netherlands, where he arrived on 1 August 1637.

Tasman did not remain in the Netherlands for long. He soon signed a new contract with the Company, this time for ten years rather than five. He was given command of a small vessel the Engel bound for Batavia. His wife accompanied him. The Engel sailed on 15 April 1638 in the service of the Amsterdam Chamber, arriving in Batavia on 11 October. On 1 November, he was entrusted with a mission to Macassar on the Engel. Then he sailed to Amboina. In May 1639 he returned to Batavia with a cargo of spices and not long after was entrusted with the mission that forms the basis of this volume. For the 1642-43 expedition Tasman sailed as commander on the flagship Heemskerck.

In 1644 Tasman was given a fresh commission. He was given three vessels for this new expedition, the result of which, was the discovery of a large section of the north coast of Australia,

Information about Tasman’s last years is contradictory and inconclusive. Tasman died probably in the autumn of 1659.
The various portraits often claimed to be of Tasman, are not likely to be genuine. Tasman was not an important figure during his lifetime and it is unlikely that he became a focus of attention among his countrymen.

Yde Tjercxzoon Holman, master of the Heemskerck was born in Jever in east Friesland. He was held in high esteem, as shown by the stipulation in the instructions that if Tasman should die he was to succeed him as leader of the expedition.

Gerrit Janszoon, master of the Zeehaen died during the voyage on 6 June 1643 and an entry in the sailor’s journal confirms this.
Isaac Gilsemans, supercargo on the Zeehaen, a native of Rotterdam, was more than just a mercantile official.


Gilsemans was a skilled draughtsman who was responsible for the drawings in the journal which are reproduced in this volume. However it should be noted that the extant drawings are all copies of Gilsemans’ original work. The originals have not been found.

Franchoijs Jacobszoon Visscher the pilot major and first mate on the Heemskerck played a very important rôle both before and during the voyage. Visscher was born in Vlissingen, a town which appointed one of the directors of the Zeeland Chamber of the East India Company.

In 1623 Visscher served as first mate in the fleet commanded by Jacques L'Hermite, which sailed through the Strait of Magellan, up the coast of Peru and along the equator across the Pacific to the East Indies. He then seems to have remained in Asia as an independent agent. He apparently worked for some time as a navigator for Asian merchants in Japan and Cambodia, and the Company's representatives in Japan were keen to employ him to survey the coast of Japan. This plan, however, came to nothing because of the deep rooted Japanese distrust of Europeans at the time.

After a short spell back in the Netherlands, Visscher returned to Batavia in 1637 as pilot major in the ranks of the East India Company. His rôle was that of navigational expert, and he was entrusted with mapping the coasts of Hainan and Tonkin. He then returned to Batavia. In January 1642, the Supreme Government received two memoranda from him, one about further exploration of the southland, the other about surveying the area north of Japan.

He produced the memorandum part of which is transcribed below. Visscher's memorandum on the exploration of the southern continent was an important document which outlines several options, some of them quite unrealistic. It is not known whether this proposal was entirely Visscher's own idea, or whether it followed suggestions by higher authorities. Given the interest which the Governor-General, Anthony van Diemen, is known to have taken in voyages of discovery, the latter is quite possible. He also produced a signed chart of part of New Zealand (See Map 7).

Other persons mentioned in either Tasman’s journal or the Sailor’s Journal include: Carsten Jurriaens, second mate aboard the Heemskerck. Chrijn Hendricxz de Ratte, second mate on the Heemskerck. Hendrik Pietersz, first mate on the Zeehaen. Pieter Nanninghzn Duyts, second mate on the Zeehaen. Cornelis Ysbrandtsz Roobol, second mate aboard the Zeehaen. Joris Claesen van Bahuys, seaman on the Heemskerck. Eldert Luytjens, master gunner on the Heemskerck, who died on I November 1642. Abraham Coomans, subcargo on the Heemskerck. Pieter Jacobsz, master carpenter on the Heemskerck. Cornelis Joppen, quartermaster on the Zeehaen. He was wounded in a skirmish with local inhabitants on the coast of New Zealand on 19 December 1642. Jan Thijssen from Cologne, Tobias Pietersz from Delft and Jan Isbrandtsz were killed in the same incident. Sybrand Cornelissen from Hertogenbosch, quartermaster aboard the Heemskerck, died on 13 February 1643. Jan Pietersz from Melsdorp, steward on the Heemskerck, deserted at Butung on 5 May 1643. Geret Geretsz, cabin boy on the Heemskerck. Henrik Haelbos, surgeon; a report of the expedition based on his private notes was published in 167I.

The ships


Little is known about the ships. Drawings of the two vessels are included in illustrations in Tasman’s journal. (See below.) The Zeehaen, a three-master specially suited for transport, was a flute, fitted out in 1640 and sent to Cambodia by the Amsterdam Chamber. The Heemskerck was a 120-tonne jacht, also fitted out by the Amsterdam Chamber and sent to Batavia in 1639. After Tasman's expeditions it was sent to the west coast of India, where it took part in the blockade of Goa, capital of Portuguese India. The Heemskerck was then part of the flotilla commanded by Wollebrand Geleynssen de Jongh and Commander Blocq and charged with exacting an apology from the Shah of Persia for offences against the Company. The Heemskerck was also selected for an experimental expedition to fish for pearls on the pearl banks of Bahrain in 1645, but the idea was ultimately abandoned.

Cartographic aspects of Tasman’s voyage and Tasman’s discoveries publicised

The cartography associated with the charts included in Tasman’s journal and the development of world and Pacific maps following his voyage, is outside the scope of this book. The topic has been adequately dealt with by Sharp (1968) and Schilder (1976) and the

interested reader is referred to these books.

However the following brief references are appropriate. There was little delay before Tasman's discoveries appeared on maps and globes. One or more Dutch publishers surreptitiously obtained data from the Dutch East Indies and printed maps which included Tasman's name "Staten landt" and place-names beside part of New Zealand's west coast. Later the Amsterdam publisher Joan Blaeu in association with an official or officials of the Dutch East India Company devised the name "Zeelandia Nova."

Bound in with a signed copy of Tasman’s journal of the voyage, is a manuscript chart of New Zealand known as the SAJ (State Archives Journal) chart The data in this chart and a chart attributed to F. J. Visscher are probably derived from a chart, now lost, which shows a gap in the coastline in the Cook Strait area. The name "Staten Landt" appears in the SAJ chart and in Tasman’s journal.

Three important manuscript maps that are derived from sketches made during Tasman’s voyage are: "Bonaparte Map" [See the note under Section F in Contents.], "Eugene Map", and "Bowrey Map."

[The journal starts immediately below.]

The Journal

Journal or description drawn up by me, Abel Janszoon Tasman, of a voyage made from the town of Batavia [fn.1. Jakarta] in the East Indies, relating to the discovery of the unknown southland in the year of our Lord 1642, the 14th of August. May it please God almighty to give hereto His Blessing on this work. Amen. [fn.2.
As already mentioned in regard to the instructions, this account of the journal is not a literal translation of a manuscript but it is presented as a readable version based on a number of publications.]

14 Aug. 1642. Sailed from the roadstead at Batavia with two ships, to wit: the yacht Heemskerck, and the flute Zeehaen. In the evening the Zeehaen grounded on the island of Rotterdam
[fn. 3. A small island in the Bight of Jakarta.], but got afloat again without notable damage. Then we continued on the voyage heading for Selat Sunda.

15 Aug. Towards evening I met Mr Sweers of the yacht Bredam and learned from him that a quelpuert. [fn. 4. q
uelpuert is an earlier name for a galiot (or galliot) which was usually a small boat propelled by sails and oars but in this case was probably a small Dutch cargo-vessel], which came from the Netherlands, lay at anchor at the point of Banten. In the evening, we anchored in twenty two fathoms off Anger Lor. Since the Heemskerck was not fit to proceed further in her unseaworthy condition, we set about carrying out repairs.

16 Aug. At our anchorage, the wind was northeast and we noticed a strong current flowing through Selat Sunda. In the evening, with the land breeze, we raised our anchors and shaped our course so as to pass between the Panaitan Islands
[Prinsen] and Rakata. [fn.5. Named Krakatau in earlier maps or generally known as Krakatoa.]

17 Aug. In the morning, we had the Panaitan Islands southwest of us and Rakata northwest by north. Our course was southwest by west with the wind southeast.

At noon, we had the southernmost of the Panaitan islands east-southeast from us five miles.

We calculated our position as 6
o 20' S, 124o E.

In the afternoon we drifted in a calm. This day we resolved that from Selat Sunda, we shall sail 200 miles southwest by west as far as the fourteenth parallel and from there, west-southwest as far as the twentieth parallel; then we shall sail directly west to the island of Mauritius.

 At noon, we estimated our position as 6o 48' S, 123o 20' E. As resolved with the council on the 17th we sailed thirteen miles, the course kept southwest by west. At night, it rained hard with thunder and lightning.

19 Aug. At noon, we calculated our position as 8o 38' S, 120o 35' E. We kept our course by estimation, southwest by west but after sailing thirty six miles, found ourselves more to the south. A topsails breeze southeast by east. [fn. 5.
This term refers to a wind in which topsails could be set without danger.]

Variation 3 degrees northwesterly.

20 Aug. At noon, we calculated our position as 10o S, 118o 30' E. A southeast by east topsails breeze. We kept our course southwest by west and sailed thirty six miles. Good weather with smooth water.

21 Aug. At noon, we calculated our position as 11o 12' S, 116o 42' E. A moderate topsails breeze southeast by east. After sailing thirty two miles, we estimate the longitude of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands has been reached. [
fn. 6. Sharp (1968, 63, in his fn 3) points out that the Cocos or Keeling Islands were no doubt east of Tasman’s position because he underestimated his westings.]


We saw many birds.

Variation 5 degrees northwesterly.

22 Aug. At noon, we calculated our position as 13o 31' S, 114o 40' E. A topsails breeze. We steered a southwest by west course and sailed thirty six miles.

23 Aug. At noon, we calculated our position as 13o 57' S, 112o 23' E. The wind southeast with a steady breeze. We kept our course southwest by south and sailed forty miles. The sea still ran high from the southwest and south-southwest.

24 Aug. At noon, we calculated our position as 14o 29' S, 109o 41' E. The wind southeast with a steady breeze. We kept our course west by south and sailed forty miles.

25 Aug. At noon, we observed our position as 15o 13' S, 107o 20' E. but we estimated our latitude as 15o 28' S. The wind southeast with a steady breeze. We kept our course a little to the west of west southwest and sailed thirty eight miles.

Variation northwesterly 8 degrees 20 minutes.

26 Aug. At noon we observed our position as 16o S, 105o 12' E. but we estimated the latitude as 16o 7' S. A moderate south southeast topsails breeze. We kept our course a little to the west of west southwest and sailed thirty six miles.

Variation 11 degrees.

27 Aug. At noon we calculated our position as 16o 40' S, 103o 32' E. The wind from the southeast but in the evening it turned east with a light topsails breeze. We steered west-southwest and sailed twenty six miles.

Variation 12 degrees 30 minutes.

28 Aug. At noon, we estimated our position as 17o 7' S, 102o 22' E. The wind variable with a dark sky. We kept our course west southwest and sailed eighteen miles.

29 Aug. At noon, we estimated our position as 17o 50' S, 100o 34' E. In the afternoon, variable winds. At three glasses being out in the first watch we again had the wind from the south southeast
[fn. 7. Reckoning according to earlier data in this page the time would have been 9.30 pm]; a topsails breeze. We kept our course west-southwest and sailed twenty eight miles.

30 Aug. At noon we estimated our position as 18o 51' S, 97o 58' E. The wind southeast with light rain showers. We kept our course west-southwest and sailed forty miles. About noon, the Zeehaen broke her spritsail yard in pieces.

31 Aug. At noon, we estimated our position as 19o 55' S, 95o 14' E. The wind south-southeast, unsteady with drizzle. We kept our course west-southwest and sailed forty two miles. Early in the afternoon, I consulted with the skippers and mates and together we estimated our position as 19
o 48' S, 95o 44' E. The latitude and longitude figures are averaged calculations.

We continued our course west-southwest till the evening and then steered west, believing we were in the same latitude as the island of Mauritius.

1 Sept. 1642. At noon, we estimated our position as 20o 28' S, 92o 19' E. The wind southeast; a steady breeze with a drizzle. We kept our course west by south and sailed forty two miles.

2 Sept. At noon, we estimated our position as 20
o 28' S, 89o 29' E. The wind east-southeast with a steady breeze and drizzling rain with high seas. We kept our course west and sailed forty miles.
Variation 20 degrees northwesterly according to the compass readings.

3 Sept. At noon, we calculated our position as 20
o 36' S, 86o 56' E. A moderate breeze from the east-southeast and good weather. We kept our course west and sailed thirty six miles.

4 Sept. At noon, we estimated our position as 19
o 55' S, 85o 13' E. The wind a moderate to soft breeze. We kept our course west northwest and sailed twenty six miles.

About midnight, we saw land and thereafter lay to for the rest of the night with reduced sails.

Variation 22 degrees 30 minutes.

5 Sept. In the morning seeing that the land was the island of Mauritius we made for it and came to anchor there about 9 o’clock. We calculated our position as 20o S, 83o 48' E. We were by our earlier estimate fifty miles east of Mauritius when we saw it.



On the next page in the State Archives Journal, are three coastal views of Mauritius with legends in Dutch. These drawings are reproduced here; click on the thumbnails. The captions are English renditions of the Dutch legends.

6 Sept. I sent six sailors, three from the Zeehaen and three from our ship the Heemskerck, with one of our undermates to the wood to assist the hunters in catching and bringing off wild game.

At noon, we saw a ship outside the bay and about four hours afterwards she came to anchor near us. We learned that this ship, the Arent sailed from Texel in the Netherlands, on 23 April last, in a fleet comprising the ships Salamander and Zutphen, the yacht Leeuwerick and the galiot Visscher.


At the Cape Verde Islands the Arent separated from the rest of the fleet which continued the voyage to Batavia. The Arent brought supplies such as victuals and ammunition, and also soldiers and seamen for Mauritius, according to a report given to the commander at the island, van der Stel.

In the report, it was explained that on 27th last, they arrived at Rodrigues which they mistakenly believed was Mauritius because it lies in approximately the same latitude. At Rodrigues, they found a French ship in the roadstead but because of language difficulties and evasive explanations, they were confused as to whether she had come from Dieppe or from the Red Sea. It was gathered their intention was to run for the island of Réunion or perhaps Madagascar. They sailed in company with the French ship from Rodrigues, but on the 5th instant at noon separated from her, although in the evening they had her still in sight. When they reported to the commander that she set her course west-southwest, he sent forthwith some men to the northwest side of Mauritius, to investigate whether the Frenchmen had landed. He presumed that they might well have sought to deceive the Dutch garrison, and attempt to cut some ebonywood, in which case they were bound to prevent them doing this.


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