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An Introduction to Polynesian Anthropology

Le Maire and Schouten

Le Maire and Schouten

To return to the sequence of discovery after Quiros, the Pacific adventure was taken up by the Dutch. Between 1598 and 1616, a number of Dutch ships had sailed through the Strait of Magellan, but they worked north along the South American coast and then sailed west to the East Indies. The Dutch East India Company had established a trade monopoly, and no ships were allowed to pass through the Strait of Magellan without their permission. However, a new Dutch Company, calling itself the Southern Company and headed by Isaac Le Maire, obtained a charter to trade with countries they should discover by new passages. They fitted out an expedition consisting of two ships, the Eendracht and the Hoorn. William Schouten, an experienced navigator, commanded the Eendracht with the title of patron, and Jacob Le Maire, the son of Isaac Le Maire, sailed with Schouten as president of the expedition. The company, in consultation with Schouten, was convinced that there was a western passage into the Pacific other than the Strait of Magellan and that the expedition could thus avoid the restriction placed on the Strait of Magellan by the Dutch East India Company. The expedition sailed from Holland on June 14, 1615 for the eastern coast of Patagonia. While refitting page 20at Port Desire, the Hoorn was destroyed accidentally by fire. The expedition went on with one ship, and Schouten sailed south of the latitude to the entrance of Magellan Strait. A passage was found between Tierra del Fuego and land which they named Staten Land in honor of the States of Holland. The passage was named the Strait of Le Maire, and the most southerly point seen after passing through it was named Cape Hoorn (Horn) in honor of the town of Hoorn in Holland.

The Eendracht sailed west along the northern fringe of the Tuamotu Archipelago. The islands they discovered were named Honden (Dog), Sondergrondt (Bottomless), Waterlandt (Waterland), and Vliegen (Flies). These have been identified as Pukapuka, Takaroa and Takapoto, Manihi, and Ahe. Later, two islands north of the Tongan group were encountered and named Cocos and Verraders. They are better known by the names Boscawen and Keppel given to them by Wallis in 1767, but the Tongan names are Tafahi and Niuatobutabu. The island of Niuafoou was also discovered and named Good Hope Island. Five days later, the islands of Alofi and Futuna were discovered and named the Hoorn (Horn) Islands. This ended the Polynesian discoveries, which were made in the months of April and May 1616. The Eendracht reached Batavia, where the Dutch officials, disbelieving the report of a new passage, confiscated the ship and sent Schouten and Le Maire back to Holland under arrest. Jacob Le Maire died on the voyage.