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Browse the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.



European Names

Coming to European names for New Zealand, when Jacob Le Maire in 1616 discovered Le Maire Strait, he and his companions had no idea of the extent of the land on the south side of the strait. They called it Staten Land, a name which still endures for the small portion of land separated from the rest of South America by Le Maire Strait. In 1642–43, when Abel Janszoon Tasman sailed along part of the western littoral of New Zealand, he conjectured that it might be joined to Le Maire's Staten Land and accordingly named it Staten Landt. In 1643 Hendrik Brouwer skirted Le Maire's Staten Land on the south side. Any discerning geographer who knew of this might be expected to deduce that Le Maire's Staten Land was not a continent and that Tasman's Staten Landt did not join it. In 1644 Tasman sailed along the north coast of Australia. In the same year the Dutch authorities at Batavia had a composite map compiled; it is now in the Mitchell Library, Sydney. It shows large portions of Australia known from Dutch discoveries, including those of Tasman on the Tasmanian and continental north coast. “Compagnis Niev Nederland” occurs in this map in large letters within the Australian continent. The name means “Company's New Netherland”, the “Company” being the Dutch East India Company. Later, “Nieuw Holland”, meaning New Holland, became a standard Dutch appellation for the Australian continent, and the English translation, or its Latin equivalent, in due course appeared in the texts of British explorers and geographers. On a Dutch globe-map of the mid-seventeenth century, the name “Zeelandia Nova” – the Latin equivalent of the Dutch “Nieuw Zeeland” and the English “New Zealand” – appears for the parts of New Zealand discovered by Tasman. Zeeland is a Dutch maritime province. We may see in these facts the emergence of the designation Nieuw Zeeland and in due course of its English equivalent as a name replacing the unsatisfactory Staten Land and bestowed on New Zealand by analogy with the name Nieuw Holland for Australia.

by Charles Andrew Sharp, B.A.(OXON.), M.A.(N.Z.), Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington.

  • The Journals of Captain James Cook, Beaglehole, J. C. (ed.) (1955, 1961)
  • The Quest and Occupation of Tahiti by Emissaries of Spain, Corney, B. G., (ed.) (1915)
  • Polynesian Mythology, and Ancient Traditional History of the New Zealand Race, Grey, Sir G. (1855)
  • The Discovery of New Zealand, Beaglehole, J. C. (1939)
  • Tasman and New Zealand, McCormick, E. H. (1959)
  • Journal of the Polynesian Society, Vol. 46 (1937).