Story: European discovery of New Zealand

Terra australis incognita

The European discovery of New Zealand was bound up with speculation about a ‘terra australis incognita’ (unknown south land), and efforts to prove its existence and exploit its resources. The map pictured here was drawn by a Dutch cartographer, Henricus Hondius, and published in 1637, five years before Tasman became the first European to discover New Zealand. It centres on the South Pole (Polus Antarcticus) and depicts the western and southern coasts of Australia (lower right). However, Hondius shows Australia as separate from the supposed terra australis incognita, which he located to the east.

Using this item

Alexander Turnbull Library
Reference: MapColl-140a-[1641]/Acc. 32121
Map by Henricus Hondius

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

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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, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/zoomify/1403/terra-australis-incognita (accessed 18 August 2019)

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