Abel Janszoon Tasman was
born in the village of Lutjegast, in today's province of Groningen in
the Netherlands, in 1603. In 1633 he joined the Dutch East India
Company. In 1642 he was instructed to find the "Southern Continent"
which had eluded explorers for many years. He prepared two ships, the
Zeehaen, a "flute," a long narrow ship of 100 tons carrying 50
men, and the Heemskerck, a small warship of about 60 tons with
60 men. The stamps show the ships against
an outline map of the eastern Pacific.
On December 13 the sighted land, which Tasman named
"Staten Landt." referring to the land claimed by the Dutch
States-General. Only later was it discovered that this was, in fact, a
new discovery and had no connection with the Dutch claims in
The stamps from the
Netherlands and New Zealand have a map of the area of
New Zealand which Tasman sighted, in the vicinity of the coast between
modern Hokitika and Okarito, on the west coast of the South Island.
The map is by Frans Jacobszoon (Visscher), the Heemskerck's
Pilot-Major, and presently in the State Archives in The Hague.
The stamp from Ciskei shows Tasman's course.