New Zealand Embassy The Hague, The Netherlands

History of the New Zealand/Dutch Relationship

Dutch sailors under the command of Abel Janszoon Tasman, a captain of the Dutch East Indies Company, were the first recorded non-Maori to sight what is now known as New Zealand.

On 13 December 1642, during a major exploratory expedition that took Tasman and his two ships and a hundred plus crew deep into the southern latitudes searching for the legendary "Great Southern Land", land on the west coast of New Zealand's South Island was sighted. During the next three weeks Tasman sailed up the coast to the north of the country, departing towards Tonga on 5 January 1643.

New Zealand had been put on the world map. It would, however, be more than another century before further European contact occurred, during the voyages of Captain James Cook.

Dutch nationals were represented in the early migrant groups that settled New Zealand from the early 19th century but it was not until the years immediately after World War II that significant numbers of Dutch migrants came to New Zealand. As a result of negotiations between the Dutch and New Zealand Governments a migration agreement was signed in October 1950. In the ensuing decades thousands of Dutch nationals migrated to New Zealand and settled throughout the country.

While numbers of Dutch migrants have slowed in recent years, New Zealand is still seen as an attractive destination by Dutch interested in migration. Today it is estimated that well over 100,000 New Zealanders have some Dutch connection.

Alongside those who chose to migrate to New Zealand, there are also growing numbers of young Dutch people taking advantage of the Working Holiday Scheme to spend a year in New Zealand. Tourist visitor numbers from the Netherlands are also substantial and growing.

For further information about Dutch migration to New Zealand, please visit the Te Ara (The Encyclopaedia of New Zealand) website.

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