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From Tasman To Marsden.

5. D'Entrecasteaux's Visit, 1793

page 81

5. D'Entrecasteaux's Visit, 1793.

In 1791, after a three years' silence regarding the whereabouts of La Perouse who had last been heard of at Botany Bay, the National Assembly requested the King of France to direct that one or more ships be fitted out to look for and settle the fate of the long-missing navigator. Admiral D'Entrecasteaux was appointed to command the Expedition and was placed aboard the Recherche, and Captain Huon Kermadec commanded the Espérance.

The Expedition left Brest on 10th September 1791, and, on 28th February 1793, sailed from Adventure Bay in Van Diemen's Land, bound for the Friendly Islands. At day-break on 10th March, the Three Kings were sighted to the north of New Zealand, and smoke was seen ascending from the easternmost island. Between 10 and 11 a.m. the coast of New Zealand was seen, and at half-past five two canoes put off the shore towards the ships. At first they seemed doubtful of the Frenchmen, but in a short time overcame their fears and ranged up alongside to barter.

For trade they had bundles of flax which they exchanged for cloth of different colours. Whenever iron was shown them they recognised it at once by the sound made when two pieces were struck together, and, transported with joy at the sight of it, they were prepared to barter almost anything they had in their canoes, even disposing of their arms, and stripping themselves of their clothes for the same purpose. At sunset a third canoe came upon the scene as the others were leaving.

The Frenchmen noticed that after dark, when small quantities of powder were fired on the Recherche, to indicate their presence to the Espérance, the Natives showed no surprise, but continued their trading without interruption. Half-an-hour or so after dark the New Zealanders paddled towards the shore, and at daybreak D'Entrecasteaux sailed for the Friendly Islands.

The French Commander noted that the North Cape was 36' more to the eastward than Cook had laid it down.

On 16th March 1793, in the afternoon, the look-out sighted a large rock. This is now known as the Espérance page 82 Rock, and is situated in latitude 31° 26′ S., and longitude 178° 55′ W. The next day the Curtis Islands were sighted, and the day following, at dawn, a comparatively large island was discovered and named La Recherche Island, after the name of the Commander's ship. The name La Recherche was afterwards changed to Raoul, after Joseph Raoul, first pilot of the Recherche. The Island is sometimes called Sunday Island, the name given by Captain Raven after his visit to it on Sunday, 6th November 1796, when on board the Britannia bound for England. To the whole group the name Kermadec was given after the captain of the Espérance.

From the Kermadecs D'Entrecasteaux sailed for the Friendly Islands.