In December 1642 the first meeting between Māori and Europeans took place: Ngāti Tūmatakōkiri and Abel Tasman. This encounter is illustrated from a 17th century point of view in the now iconic image of the 'Murderer's Bay'. Project 'View on Golden Bay' wants to rebuild this illustration with the help of views from artists, writers and researchers from both New Zealand and The Netherlands. The project will result in a book and exhibition. (read more).  In december 1642 vond de eerste ontmoeting plaats tussen Māori en Europeanen: Ngāti Tūmatakōkiri en Abel Tasman. Deze ontmoeting wordt vanuit 17e eeuw Europees perspectief weergegeven in de inmiddels iconografische illustratie van de 'Moordenaarsbaai'. Project 'Zicht op Golden Bay' wil dit beeld opnieuw opbouwen met behulp van inzichten van kunstenaars, schrijvers en onderzoekers uit zowel Nieuw-Zeeland als Nederland. Het project zal resulteren in een boek en expositie. (lees meer).

graphic and illustrative design
grafisch en illustratief ontwerp

Abel remembers Murderers Bay  Abel herinnert zich Moordenaarsbaai

2012/03/13 16:00, 2 comments  13/03/2012 16:00, 2 reacties

They had the best of it
Although we did
Surprise them with our cannons, several times
Still, three men dead
One captured
And the Council of the Indies said
‘Use great care in all places with small craft’

Easy enough to say; they weren’t here
Easy enough in Fort Batavia
With native doxies at their beck and call
To blame all this misconsequence on me

‘Make contact properly and amicably’
So wrote Van Dieman and his councillors
Simple to say; and later they would say
‘Though we specifically instructed him
He went against us, fired off the guns
Aroused the native people’s enmity
Demote him! Punish him! He isn’t competent!
Abel, as seaman, but when all is said
He is a nobody; unworthy of command

Why did they give it then?
I know: it is because
Their ships are costly, and I bring them home
I’m careful, of the ships and of the men

That’s why I fired off the cannons on the upper deck
Abraham mewed: ‘Trumpets are sounded by ambassadors
Theirs might sound strange to us,
As ours to them, yet still mean peace’ I thought
‘No! Devil take it! These do not mean peace!

Darkness, and enemies around my ships
No rest for us all night; a host on shore
Yde and Isaac didn’t stay to talk to them
But hastened back, bending their backs, the Southlanders
In hot pursuit; in a pig’s eye they wanted peace!

Now: three men dead, one carried off alive
The milk’s been spilt; and nothing to be gained by argument
We’ve all agreed, at last
To hold this land’s inhabitants as enemies
I knew it when I first
Saw them. I’m not a sole commander, like an English admiral
Yet VOC will still hold me accountable

I’ve tailored my report. Both skippers have agreed
To mend their logs; if I’m to blame, we all are.
Let it be
Remembered as I have reported it:

The guns were fired on the night of the 18th
After the Southlanders went back to shore
‘Blown off’, in order to reload
With fresh dry powder, that we might prevent mischance.

Not scrupulously true, but true enough
For I believe it did prevent mischance:
Stopped their performance; sent them back to land

Of Gerrit’s leaving council, and his subsequent
unwise command, which I think were the nub of it
I’ve written that the Zeehaen’s skipper sent his quartermaster back
With rowers. Not a word about
Our gunner, bustled off to Zeehaen over Yde’s head

Those rogues! How well they watched for such an opportunity
We did not understand
Their shouting; looking back on it, they had it planned.

Halfway between us, all of their canoes
Converging on the boat, barring its way
Oh, cleverly they managed it, from start to finish, out of musket range
Before we even trained our cannon, by the time I reached the rail
It was over; screams
Of those left in the boat
Snuffed out, and one still struggling, carried off to land

So, tell the Council of the Indies that I left
A live man, prisoner in the hands
Of unknown Southlanders?

Why? What would be achieved? I’m sure I made
The right decision
By the time we got our anchors up
And took the ships inshore
To punish them, their victim would most probably be dead
In any case, rescue impossible
And the attempt would put us all at risk

We sailed east. It was the right
Decision. A flotilla of their boats, swarming with people, put out after us
Faster than us, and they outnumbered us

But once again, our cannons proved too hot
We killed the leader with a lucky shot

In my report on it I simply said
the man they captured was already dead

contribution: a fictional approach by Robert Jenkin. bijdrage: een fictieve benadering door Robert Jenkin.

  1. Penny schreef:

    It’s great to be able to read Robert’s poem online; I heard him read it at the Mussel Inn a couple of years ago — it is a very special contribution to thinking about Tasman’s voyage and his experience in Golden Bay so long ago.

  2. Hartebeest schreef:

    Hi Penny. That must have been a special event!

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