Early NZ Shipwrecks

Portuguese & Spanish Explorers in New Zealand

Early Shipwrecks Northland, NZ

This is an extract from one of Gary’s articles in the Rainbow News.

A number of years ago, a Poutu man was riding on horse back through the sand dunes to the coast when he came to the site of the the killing of the Spanish sailors. Offshore winds had stripped the sand from the site and revealed a steel helmet that contained a skull. He decided to rebury the find in a more suitable location, and took the remains to the edge of an old coastal cemetery where the helmet and skull were placed in a hole in the ground.

Did the Portuguese pre date Able Tasman in NZ?

One of the most interesting items to come to light is a British Admiralty map dated 1817 that clearly shows a number of names that are Portuguese in origin. These are the Carbo Formaso 1550, East Cape, and Cook Straits with the name given as the Gulf of the Portuguese 1550. The title for this chart is New Zealand, discovered and named by Tasman 1642, but whose Eastern coast was known to the Portuguese, about the year 1550. The coastline of Ripiro, Dargaville, in Northland, was marked as “The Desert Coast”. An update of this chart published in 1822, showed no reference to the Portuguese. Evidence has also come to light that Joseph Banks, who sailed on the first Cook voyages to New Zealand, had purchased charts from the British Admiralty, that were Portuguese in origin.

Captain James Cook uses Portuguese maps?

The following map was published in 1817 and is thought to have been based on one used by Captain James Cook when he came to New Zealand. The he map used was of Portuguese origins and, whilst indistinct, shows dates of 1550 in its title as being the dates at which the Portuguese came to New Zealand.

Early Portuguese & Spanish Caravels in New Zealand