Abel Tasman National Monument
Image: Rob Zaagman, Dutch Ambassador ©
The monument was built in 1942 to commemorate the tercentenary (300 year anniversary) of Abel Janszoon Tasman's visit in 1642.
It was designed by Austrian refugee architect Ernst Plischke and is one of 13 designated national monuments. It received an enduring architecture award in 2006.
In 1992 Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands visited the monument and an event was held to remember the encounter with Abel Tasman. It's interesting to compare the new and old interpretation signs, which reveal how our perspective on how Abel Tasman's visit had changed in the intervening 50 years.
Abel Tasman's visit
Abel Tasman’s log records that a little after night-fall on 18 December 1642, while his ships the Heemskerck and Zeehaen lay at anchor in the bay, four canoes manned by local Māori came to the ships. No real contact was made on this first visit and the canoes returned to the shore.
In the uneasy dawn the next day, eight well-manned canoes came out again. As tension mounted a small boat from the Zeehaen, acting as a ferry between the two ships, was rammed by the leading canoe. A skirmish followed and four of Tasman’s men were killed. Anchors were quickly weighed and the Dutch ships swiftly departed.
Onsite interpretation panels give visitors more information about this incident.
An easy five-minute walking track leads to a viewing platform and the monument which stands on a limestone outcrop above the sea. You are rewarded with scenic and photographic opportunities of the Tata Islands and Ligar Bay.
It is situated beside the main road, in an outlying section of Abel Tasman National Park, just beyond Port Tarakohe. It is about 12 km north-east from Takaka on the road to Totaranui.
Look for the carpark and signpost a short distance past the Tarakohe boat harbour, where the short well-maintained track leads to the monument.
Dogs are not allowed in Abel Tasman National Park.