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Historical Records of New Zealand Vol. II.

Resolution of the Governor-General and Councillors of the Dutch Chartered East India Company, with Headquarters at Batavia, dated Friday, 1st August 1642

page 2

Resolution of the Governor-General and Councillors of the Dutch Chartered East India Company, with Headquarters at Batavia, dated Friday, 1st August 1642.

Since our predecessors, the Lords Governors-General Jan Pietersen Coen, deceased, Pieter de Carpentier, Henrick Brouwer, and ourselves, pending their administration and ours, have been greatly inclined to forward the navigation to the partly known and still unexplored south and east land, in order to the direct discovery of the same and to the consequent opening up of important countries, or leastwise of convenient routes to well-known opulent markets, in such fashion that the same might in due time be used for the improvement and increase of the company's general prosperity, our worshipful masters have not only highly approved of the said plan, but also by successive general missives strongly recommended the said Governors-General to carry the same into execution; but owing to the requirements of commerce and war in this country, together with the deficiency of fitting vessels, to our regret, little has up to now been done towards the furthering of this good work, except that, in the beginning of our administration we have, pursuant to the resolution of February 13, 1636, dispatched via Banda, along the coast of Nova Guinea, under the command of the Hon. Gerrit Thomassen Pool, deceased, the yachts “Cleen Amsterdam” and “Wesel”, which ships have by contrary winds been prevented from proceeding so far to the east and south as we could have wished and had instructed the said Hon. Pool to attempt; in such fashion that, having up to that time obtained scant knowledge of the matters aforesaid, we have since amply and fully conferred with divers persons known to be thoroughly conversant with the matter in hand, more especially with the renowned and highly experienced pilot Frans Jacobssen Visscher, touching discoveries eventually to be made, and the direction in which they had best be undertaken; and, having received from him, as also from other experts, certain advices and opinions in writing concerning this matter, we now deem and consider it most expedient for an expedition to set out about this time from here for the Island of Mauritius, and from there to navigate southward with the sun in the beginning of the month of October, thus endeavouring to make the discoveries aforementioned from the west to the east; which matter having been diligently weighed by us, and it having been found on due estimation of the company's naval forces now available that for the furtherance of this important work page 3 and useful undertaking we might, without detriment to the company's ordinary trade and military interests, fit out and dispatch two able ships adapted for the purpose and at present available for the said enterprise:

Therefore, for the reasons above set forth, it has been unanimously determined and resolved to dispatch for the discovery and exploration of the supposed rich southern and eastern lands, &c., the ship “Heemskerck” and the flute “de Zeehaen,” the first manned with sixty and the second with fifty of the most efficient able-bodied sailors available on the roadstead here, victualled at all points for twelve calendar months, but with rice for eighteen ditto; furthermore, amply provided with all useful necessaries, and with divers commodities, and a quantity of precious and other metals for bartering purposes in the lands eventually to be touched at; the whole under the command of the Hon. Abel Janssen Tasman, who, together with Commander Matthijs Quast, deceased, sailed east of Japan A.D. 1639, and is now strongly inclined to this discovery; seconded by the aforementioned Pilot-Major Frans Visscher, together with skippers Gerritt Janssen and Jde T'Jercksen, who have both of them approved themselves experienced navigators, and merchant Jsaack Gilsemans, who is sufficiently versed in navigation and the drawing-up of land-surveyings: supported by such able steersmen as the said Tasman shall be able to select; instructing them, as before attempted, first to sail from here to Mauritius, and, after taking in refreshments there, to sail due south about the middle of October as far as 52, or at most 54, degrees southern latitude, in order to discover and survey in an easterly direction such lands as they shall meet with in the latitude aforesaid or before it, to determine their proper longitudes and latitudes, and duly observe and note whatever requires observation for the purposes of this important voyage, without, however, running farther south than the 54th degree, even in case they should not find any land there; next to sail as far as the longitude of Nova Guinea and the Solomon Islands, or somewhat farther east, in order to ascertain whether there is any passage into the great South Sea between the said lands, the land of d'Eendracht* and the unknown south land; subsequently, after completion of this search, to steer east and north of the Solomon Islands and Nova Guinea through the narrows near Gilolo, in order to find out, likewise, whether the west coast of Nova Guinea already discovered is connected with the land of d'Eendracht, or divided from it by channels or straits; then to run along the whole length of the utterly unknown north coast as far as 21 degrees, near the Willems page 4 River; thence to return hither with the east monsoon through Sunda Straits in the month of June or July of next year.

The Hon. Justus Schouten, Councillor-extraordinary of India, is by the present directed to draw up fitting instructions with the advice of the parties concerned, and to submit the same for due examination to this Council by the time the said ships shall have completed their preparations; the Hon. Cornelis Vander Lijn being at the same time enjoined to put on board the ships bound for the south land, over and above what they shall themselves require, and what is embarked for bartering purposes, such necessaries for the Island of Mauritius as Commander Adriaen vander Stel, who arrived here with the flute “d'Eendracht” on July 26 last, requires for the said island.

* * * *

Actum in the Castle of Batavia, date ut supra, signed—

Antonio van Diemen


Cornelis van der Lijn


Joan Maetsuijker


Justus Schouten


Salomon Sweers


Cornelis Witsen


Pieter Boreel

, and

Pieter Mestdagh

, Secretary.

* The western portion of Western Australia, discovered in 1616.