Story: European discovery of New Zealand

Proof of Spanish discovery?

Some have speculated that Spanish or Portuguese ships reached New Zealand, or became wrecked on its coast, before Abel Tasman’s arrival in 1642. This ‘Spanish helmet’, allegedly fished out of Wellington Harbour, is seen by some as proof that the Spanish did reach New Zealand. But there is no record of the helmet before it was noted in the national museum in 1904, and the theory that it was dropped from an early Spanish vessel is not convincing. In this sound file, historian Phyllis Herda discusses the likelihood that Spanish explorer Juan Fernandez visited New Zealand around 1576.

Sound file from Radio New Zealand Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero. Any re-use of this audio is a breach of copyright. To request a copy of the recording, contact Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero (History – Spanish discovery of New Zealand/Reference number MR911107).

About this item

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
Reference: B.024210

Permission of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

How to cite this page:

John Wilson. 'European discovery of New Zealand - Before Tasman', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, updated 11-Feb-14
URL: http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/speech/1401/proof-of-spanish-discovery