1 Oct 2010

New view on fatal contact

7:06 am on 1 October 2010

An Otago University archaeologist believes he's found out why Golden Bay Maori attacked Abel Tasman's crew in 1642.

Waatea News reports the traditional view is that the first recorded European-Maori contact went wrong because the Dutch were seen as strangers and enemies.

But Dr Ian Barber says his excavations in Golden Bay indicate that Tasman's crew was seen as a threat to crops and stores of food close to their likely landing spot.

Dr Barber says a small boat on which three crew members were killed, came close to the hapu's extensive kumara gardens.

"These guys came visiting in a big ship. Lots of them were likely to have been hungry - I just don't buy into this 'fear of strangers' thing," he said.