Story: European discovery of New Zealand

Proof of Spanish discovery?

Some have speculated that Spanish or Portuguese ships reached New Zealand, or became wrecked on its coast, before Abel Tasman’s arrival in 1642. This ‘Spanish helmet’, allegedly fished out of Wellington Harbour, is seen by some as proof that the Spanish did reach New Zealand. But there is no record of the helmet before it was noted in the national museum in 1904, and the theory that it was dropped from an early Spanish vessel is not convincing. In this sound file, historian Phyllis Herda discusses the likelihood that Spanish explorer Juan Fernandez visited New Zealand around 1576.

Sound file from Radio New Zealand Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero. Any re-use of this audio is a breach of copyright. To request a copy of the recording, contact Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero (History – Spanish discovery of New Zealand/Reference number MR911107).

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Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
Reference: B.024210

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How to cite this page:

John Wilson, 'European discovery of New Zealand - Before Tasman', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 17 April 2024)

Story by John Wilson, published 8 Feb 2005, updated 1 May 2016