Monday, April 23, 2018

The land of the long white cloud

One of my regrets is not to be have been in New Zealand, although there is clearly little I could do about it! My sister was born there, but my parents returned to the UK before I was born. English is of course the principal language in New Zealand, but the name comes from Dutch. In the seventeenth century, an employee of the Dutch East India Company, Abel Tasman, was charged with exploring islands to the south of the Dutch East Indies. He gave one of these islands the name Nieuw (New) Holland. This would eventually become Australia. On his first voyage in 1642 he reached islands we now call New Zealand. Cartographers gave them the Latin name Nova Zeelandia, after the Dutch province of Zeeland ('Sealand'). This was eventually anglicized to New Zealand. Tasman's name is memorialized in Tasmania, which he discovered and the Tasman Sea, which separates Australia from New Zealand. The Maori name for New Zealand is Aotearoa, which can be translated 'Land of the long white cloud'.

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