Prior to 1800 in New Zealand

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Flag of New Zealand.svg Prior to 1800 in New Zealand Flag of New Zealand.svg
Years in New Zealand from 1800 onwards
1800 | 1801 | 1802 | 1803 | 1804 | 1805 | 1806

The first humans are thought to have arrived in New Zealand from Polynesia some time around 1300AD.[1] The people, who later became known as Māori, eventually travelled to almost every part of the country. Their arrival had a significant impact on the local fauna, particularly the flightless birds such as moa.

The first recorded sighting of New Zealand by a European was by a crew-member of Abel Tasman's ship in 1642, although no landing took place. Some of the crew were killed in Golden Bay and there was no other contact with local Māori. Tasman only visited and mapped the north and north-west coast of the South Island and part of the west coast of the North Island and remained unaware of the insularity of New Zealand.

The next known visit by Europeans was in 1769 when James Cook arrives. Cook circumnavigated the country mapping the majority of both islands and making only two erroneous assumptions, Banks Island (Peninsula) and South Cape (Stewart Island). Cook had numerous meetings with Māori, helped by having aboard a Tahitian, Tupaia, whose language has many similarities with that of the Māori. Cook returned on his second voyage in 1773 and late 1774, and on his third voyage in 1777. Although relations with Māori were generally friendly, with of course many misunderstandings on both sides, on one occasion a number of his crew were killed and eaten.

At the same time that Cook made his first visit, Jean de Surville also briefly visited New Zealand. Surville’s encounters with Māori were inconsistent and he kidnapped a chief on his departure.

A few years later another Frenchman, Marion du Fresne, arrived. His visit also ended badly as du Fresne and some of his crew were killed and the remaining crew retaliated by killing a considerable number of Māori.

There are no more recorded visits for 20 years, although vessels unlicensed by the East India Company may have been deliberately vague about any activities in New Zealand waters.[2] In the 1790s there were visits by scientists/explorers, sealers, flax/timber collectors and whalers. By 1800 the first pakeha were living in New Zealand and the first Māori to leave and return again were able to relate their experiences of lands and people from other countries.[3]


Regal and vice-regal

Any reference to New Zealand in a legal rather than geographic sense before 1840 is complex and unclear. When the British colony of New South Wales was founded in 1788 it nominally included New Zealand as far as 43°39'S (approximately halfway down the South Island). In the years before 1800 there was little interest shown in New Zealand except for the events of 1793 (see below).

  1. 23 January 1788 - 10 December 1792 - Captain Arthur Phillip RN
  2. 11 September 1795 - 27 September 1800 - Captain John Hunter RN[4]



  • Approximate date of the arrival of Māori in New Zealand.



  • 6 January – Tasman discovers and names the Three Kings Islands and then departs New Zealand waters.




  • 1 April – Cook's first voyage departs New Zealand and heads towards Australia.


  • 25 March – Marc-Joseph Marion du Fresne in Mascarin and the Marquis de Castries sights Mount Taranaki
  • 12 June: – Du Fresne and 26 of his crew killed and eaten by Māori warriors. In retaliation, the French burn down a village named Paeroa, killing 250 Māori



  • 14 July – HMS Adventure returns to England.


  • 30 July – HMS Resolution returns to England ending Cook's second voyage.




  • 6 November – The Britannia, under the command of Captain William Raven, arrives at Dusky Sound from Port Jackson to drop off a sealing party.[3] This is the first sealing gang to be landed in New Zealand.[12]
  • 1 December – The Britannia leaves for to the Cape of Good Hope via Cape Horn. During its stay the crew have built several buildings, the first European buildings in New Zealand. On one occasion they sight some Māori who run away. Māori are not sighted in the area by any of the subsequent sealers who visit Dusky Sound in the next 20 years. The sealing party is left with tools and equipment to build a small ship. They are the first Europeans to stay in New Zealand.[3]


  • 25 February – The Malaspina Expedition, under Alessandro Malaspina, arrives in Dusky Sound.[13]
  • c. March/April – The Daedalus, Lieutenant James Hanson, anchors off the Cavalli Islands. Hanson has instructions to find 2 Māori to take to Norfolk Island to instruct the convicts in the production of flax. He kidnaps Tuki(-tahua) and Huru(-kokoti) who are not only men (flax weaving is done by women) but also high-born.[3]
  • 20 April – The Daedalus arrives in Port Jackson.[3]
  • 24 April – Tuki and Huru are transferred to the Shaw Hormuzear, Captain William Wright Bampton, which leaves for Norfolk Island where it arrives before the end of the month.[3]
  • May – Having discovered that Tuki and Huru know virtually nothing about flax production Commandant King offers them the choice of leaving on the Shaw Hormuzear for England or staying on the island until they can be returned home. They choose to stay.[3]
  • 8 September – The Britannia and the Francis, Captain House, leave Port Jackson to collect the sealing party at Dusky Sound.[3]
  • 27 September – The Britannia arrives at Dusky.[3]
  • Approximately 11 October – The Francis arrives at Dusky.[3]
  • 20 October – The Britannia and Francis leave for Norfolk Island.[3]
  • 2 November – The Britannia and Francis arrive at Norfolk Island. Captain Raven reports enthusiastically about the prospects of settlement in New Zealand. Lieutenant-Governor King commandeers the Britannia to return Tuki and Huru. The Francis returns to Port Jackson where Captain House reports somewhat less than enthusiastically to Acting Governor Grose about New Zealand.[3]
  • 9 November – The Britannia leaves for New Zealand. During their stay King has learned much about New Zealand from Tuki and Huru, including a map of the country drawn by Tuki[14] and some of the language. He draws up plans for settling New Zealand of which he hopes to be in charge.[3]
  • 12 November – The Britannia arrives at Muriwhenua (North Cape). After greeting the local Māori, including relatives of Tuki, the Britannia attempts to sail for the Bay of Islands but is becalmed.[3]
  • 13 November – The Britannia leaves North Cape to return to Norfolk Island. King leaves gives gifts to Tuki and Huru including clothing, tools, potatoes and pigs. The latter 2 are the first in this part of New Zealand.[3]


  • 10 March – Samuel Marsden arrives at Sydney to become the assistant chaplain to Reverend Richard Johnson.[15][16]
  • 4 July – Marsden moves to Parramatta.[15][16]
  • October – Marsden buys 100 acres and starts his farm which is worked by convict labour.[15][16]
  • 12 – 14 November – The Fancy, Captain Thomas Dell, visits Doubtless Bay in Northland. Captain Dell passes a message from Lieutenant-Governor King to Tuki (see 1793 above).[3]
  • 20 November – The Fancy arrives in Hauraki to collect spars and flax.[3]


  • 21 February – The Fancy leaves Hauraki having felled far more timber than she can carry away. She also has a large quantity of dressed flax.[3]
  • 18 September – The Endeavour,[17] Captain William Brampton, and the Fancy, Captain Dell, leave Port Jackson. There are fifty passengers (mostly freed convicts) aboard, including Elizabeth Heatherly (aka Bason) and her partner James Heatherly and their small son James. The ships plan to visit Dusky Sound and Norfolk Island en route to India. Shortly after leaving they discover 40 escaped convicts and deserters aboard (including 1 female, Ann Carey).[3]
  • Before 12 October – The Endeavour and Fancy arrive at Dusky. Elizabeth Heatherly and Ann Carey are the first pakeha women known to have visited New Zealand. There are in all 244 people on the 2 vessels. Captain Brampton intends to hunt seals, finish the schooner left by the Britannia (see above) and load spars for Bombay. After a week the Endeavour is condemned as unseaworthy, it later is allowed to drift on to rocks and is beached. In addition to the unfinished boat left by the Britannia, to be known as the Providence, they decide to refit the Endeavour’s longboat into another seaworthy vessel.[3]
  • Late in the year Samuel Marsden becomes a magistrate and the superintendent for government affairs.[15][16]


  • 7 January – The Fancy and the Providence sail from Dusky Sound for Norfolk Island, where the passengers (including Elizabeth Heatherly and her son) and some seamen are left before carrying on to China. The convicts (including Ann Carey) and some ex-convicts (including shipwright James Heatherly) and seamen have been left at Dusky where they are still modifying the Endeavour’s longboat into an ocean-going vessel.[3]
  • March – The Assistance (the Endeavour’s longboat), having been made seaworthy (just), with a small crew of seamen and convicts, leaves Dusky for Norfolk Island. There are still 35 people left in Dusky.[3]


  • May – The American snow Mercury, Captain William Barnett, rescues the remaining survivors of the Endeavour and takes them to Norfolk Island. During their time in Dusky no Māori have been sighted.[3]


  • 20 August – The Hunteri, Captain James Fearn, leaves Port Jackson for China. En route she collects spars from Hauraki (possibly in early October). Some of the spars may have been those left by the Fancy in 1795 (see above). The loading is assisted by local Māori but there is no other information about contact between the ship and the locals.[3]


  • 7 October – The Hunterii,[18] Captain William Hingston, leaves Port Jackson for Calcutta. She stops at Hauraki to collect spars. Thomas Taylor and 3 other seaman (possibly all 4 were escaped convicts from New South Wales) leave the ship and stay with local Māori (they can possibly be considered the first Pākehā Māori). Taylor later marries a local woman and meets the crews of 2 ships that arrive in 1801. His later fate is unknown as is that of the other 3. The Hunter continues to Bengal where it is seized by the authorities and the ship’s log is lost.[3]



See also

For world events and topics before 1800 not specifically related to New Zealand see specific years


  1. ^ "Study questions date of Maori arrival in NZ". The New Zealand Herald. 29 December 2010. Retrieved 4 November 2011.
  2. ^ There is some evidence that a child was born of part-European parentage in the mid-1780s and also that an introduced disease, possibly dysentery, affected tribes in the Whitianga area around the same time.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y Salmond, Anne. Between Worlds. 1997. Penguin Books (NZ) Ltd. ISBN 0-670-87787-5.
  4. ^ Dictionary of Australian Biography: John Hunter
  5. ^ "Tasman's achievement". Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. 4 March 2009. Retrieved 2 June 2010.
  6. ^ "Abel Tasman". Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. 4 March 2009. Retrieved 2 June 2010.
  7. ^ "Exploration and settlement. The early voyages of discovery". Anthony G. Flude. Retrieved 27 January 2011.
  8. ^ John Dunmore. 'Surville, Jean François Marie de - Biography', from the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand, updated 1-Sep-10
  9. ^ Michael King, God's Farthest Outpost: A History Of Catholics In New Zealand, Penguin Books, Auckland, 1997, p. 73.
  10. ^ Captain Cook Society - Chronology
  11. ^ New Zealand Electronic Text Collection: FROM TASMAN TO MARSDEN - 4. Kidnapping Flax Dressers, 1792 and 1793
  12. ^ Australian Dictionary of Biography, Online Edition: Raven, William (1756 - 1814)
  13. ^ 'DUSKY SOUND', from An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock, originally published in 1966. Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand, updated 22 April 2009
  14. ^ Tahua, Tuki. "Reproduced Map of New Zealand originally drawn in chalk on the floor by two Maori Chiefs, Tuki Tahua and Ngahuruhuru, at Norfolk Island, 1793". HE TIROHANGA KI MURI A VIEW OF THE PAST. University of Otago Library. Retrieved 27 May 2015.
  15. ^ a b c d Dictionary of New Zealand Biography: Samuel Marsden
  16. ^ a b c d e New Zealand Encyclopaedia 1966: Samuel Marsden Biography
  17. ^ Not to be confused with Cook’s ship of the same name.
  18. ^ The ship may have been deliberately named after the ship that visited New Zealand the previous year in an attempt to avoid trading restrictions imposed by the East India Company. When the ship is later seized in Bengal 23 escaped convicts were found on board. Captain Hingston claimed he was on a legitimate trip under Governor Hunter’s authority. Before this could be verified he sold the ship and vanished with the proceeds.
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