Colonialism (New Zealand) #3

Or, hey, you could call this an Age of Discovery topic, to be honest. This is before New Zealand became a colony.

So you’ve heard of the Bay of Murderers, yeah? Okay, so if you’re not a New Zealander, you probably haven’t. It’s called the Golden Bay now, and it’s actually a rather lovely spot in New Zealand.

But what caused it to deserve such a name?

Well, cool thing is, this story is the first recorded instance of European contact with the Maori, the native people of New Zealand. Specifically, the Dutch, who discovered Australia (if you don’t count, well, all the people who were already living there) and sailed on a little farther to find New Zealand.

This guy called Abel Tasman (for whom Tasmania was named) was in charge of exploring. When they stopped in the bay with a couple of ships, Maori showed up in their canoes.

It seemed like a peaceful enough meeting, and the sailors tried to communicate that they wanted to trade. No trading that day, however, only seeing each other and not understanding a single word. Abel was pretty confident about their meeting, as he wrote in his log; the Dutch believed they had made a good impression.

However, we can only guess that they did not, because not too long after, several men in a row boat going between the ships were attacked by Maori in much faster canoes. As you can probably guess, a couple of them died.

The Dutch were utterly horrified, and the place was named Murderers’ Bay.

A more in detail account can be found in the book Come On Shore and We Will Kill and Eat You All.


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