New Zealand remembers Abel Tasman

Eugenie Sage

Wellington, December 16, 2017

Today marks the anniversary of two significant events in New Zealand’s cultural and natural heritage – the visit of Dutch explorer Abel Tasman in 1642, and the creation of the national park which bears his name 300 years later

At Onetahua Marae today, I represented the Government at the launch of ‘First Encounters 375,’ a series of events in Golden Bay this month marking both anniversaries.

When Abel Tasman’s ships came into Golden Bay/Mohua they were the first Europeans to visit Aotearoa New Zealand and encounter Maori. Cultural misunderstanding between the Dutch sailors and the Ngati Tumatakokiri people, who were resident in the area, led to the deaths of four sailors.

Understanding Tangata Whenua

Today we can celebrate collaboration between tangata whenua and those descended from European and other nationalities to protect New Zealand’s natural heritage.

Golden Bay’s manawhenua iwi Ngati Rarua, Te Atiawa and Ngati Tama are working with the Department of Conservation (DOC) to protect and enhance the Park and tell the story of its cultural and natural heritage, including at the Abel Tasman National Monument between Pohara Beach and Ligar Bay and at Te Waikoropupu Springs.

New Zealand owes the existence of Abel Tasman National Park to the inspirational conservationist Perrine Moncrieff, whose public campaign to protect the Nelson coast from logging led directly to its creation in 1942 under Prime Minister Peter Fraser.

Initially, the Park protected about 15,000 hectares, but with additions now covers more than 22,500 hectares. It is our smallest Hectare, albeit one enjoyed by 350,000 visitors a year.

Ecological Protection

I paid tribute to the ongoing work between DOC and other partners, including the Abel Tasman Birdsong Trust and Project Janszoon, to help restore the Park’s ecology.

The Birdsong Trust has led control of wilding pines and carries out pest control to protect native species on Park mainland and islands, while Project Janszoon has undertaken pest control, planting programmes and helped reintroduce native species such as Kaka, Kakariki and Pateke/Brown Teal.

In addition, Air New Zealand funds a biodiversity project in the north of the Park, including around Totaranui campground, with a trapping network covering more than 2600 hectares.

Eugenie Sage is Conservation Minister of New Zealand.


  1. Abel Tasman Park Image by Brewbooks
  2. Abel Tasman/James Cook Slide by New Zealand Social Sciences
  3. Picture of Eugenie Sage by Green Party of New Zealand

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