Abel Tasman's Voyage of Discovery in New Zealand Waters

Explorer Abel Janszoon Tasman was on a voyage of discovery in 1642. His mission was to locate and chart the 'Unknown Southland' as it was referred to by his employers in Batavia (Jakarta), and to find new commercial opportunities for the great Dutch trading nation.

After discovering Tasmania, the progress of Tasman’s ships Heemskerck and Zeehaen continued eastwards until on 13 December a range of high snow-capped peaks emerged on the horizon. These were the Southern Alps, and Abel Tasman became the first European explorer to set eyes on New Zealand, Aotearoa as it was known to the indigenous Maori people.

Abel Tasman Discovers New Zealand

Making landfall near the point on the South Island that 128 years later Captain James Cook would call Cape Foulwind, Tasman turned north, carefully maintaining a distance from the formidable leeward coast. The ships had not been provisioned since leaving Mauritius nine weeks earlier, and Tasman was keen to find a place to land. When the expedition reached Cape Farewell, (also later named by Cook as he departed New Zealand waters), a large bay with promise of sheltered waters opened before it. In light winds, the Heemskerck and Zeehaen edged towards land.

The Maori of Te Waipounamu (South Island) were a hardy people – they had to be to survive in this land, where the climate was harsh and food was often scarce. The region now called Golden Bay was one of the better places to make a living, and the local people guarded their territory jealously. As they saw the strange ships slowly approaching directly for their main settlement, they sent warriors out in waka to inspect them and their foreign occupants. When the warriors reported back to the tribal council, a decision was made in accordance with customs of the time. The local Maori would resist any approaches,.

Maori Attack on Tasman’s Expedition

On 19 December 1642, when a boat from the Zeehaen became isolated from its protection, the Maori launched an unprovoked assault. Tasman recorded two waka containing a total of 30 warriors attack the boat, killing three sailors outright and mortally injuring one other. Mindful of his instructions not to engage in combat with any natives encountered on his voyage, and now well aware of the large force of fierce warriors in their speedy and agile craft, Tasman withdrew in a northeasterly direction. He named the area Moordenaars (Murderers’) Bay as he left. There would be no landing for Abel Tasman’s expedition on New Zealand shores.

Tasman’s ships then took a somewhat erratic course before anchoring to the east of D’Urville Island, where they sheltered from a fierce northwesterly gale for five days. The significance of this aspect of Tasman’s discovery of New Zealand is that he was now quite close to the western entrance to Cook Strait. He suspected its existence but did not proceed to the east. If he had done so, Tasman would have discovered what Cook later did - that Staten Landt, as he had called Aotearoa on the chance it may be connected to the land of the same name at the tip of South America, was in fact a group of islands.

Tasman's Continuation North

By now Tasman was close to the easterly limit of the expedition’s planned voyage, and he decided to sail north along the New Zealand coast. Keeping his ships far offshore in places, Tasman was unable to determine much detail of the land he was passing.

Tasman only made one further close approach to New Zealand. On passing the mainland’s most northwesterly point, which he named Cape Maria Van Diemen in honour of the wife of the Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies, Tasman came upon the group of small islands that he named the Three Kings.

Now desperate for clean water, Tasman's crew made a final attempt to land before facing the long journey northward to known Pacific islands. The Three Kings have little in the way of safe anchorages, and they failed to find a place to land there. Tasman was also deterred by the sight of an aggressive-seeming band of warriors, who he assumed would be guarding any water that may be available. So the expedition sailed on, leaving New Zealand and making for Tonga.

Abel Tasman in History

As well as disappointing his employers by not being able to report the location of the ‘Unknown Southland’, Tasman also came under criticism for returning to Batavia ahead of schedule with two months’ provisions still aboard. He was considered to be somewhat conservative in his approach to exploration, and this impression would later be reinforced by his abbreviated second voyage to the south in 1644.

Tasman did, however, attract loyalty from several long-serving crew members, and his record of health and welfare aboard ship stood up well compared to his predecessors and many of the great explorers who followed him.

Dutch cartographers, working from the explorer's record of his voyage, later renamed Tasman's Staten Land as New Zealand, for the southern Dutch province of Zeeland.


Why is the Pond Water Green?: Natural Ways to Fix Algae in a Pond

Algae can be tricky. To many people, algae is the slimy green plant that floats in mats in the pond or coats pond rocks. However, green pond water is also caused by algae of a different variety. This free-floating algae can make pond water look quite murky, and it can be a nuisance in the pond.

Diagnosing A Pond Algae Problem

Check for the bottom of the pond. What – no bottom? When pond water is green and seems to be full of suspended sediment even when it isn’t raining, chances are that there is algae in the pond. Wait for a few weeks, and if the bottom is still difficult to see and the algae appear to be persistent, it’s time to do some algae troubleshooting.

Use Shade to Reduce Algae Growth

Algae are tiny plants, and plants make food through photosynthesis. This process involves sunlight. Take away some of the sunlight, and this makes it more difficult for algae to bloom. Purchase water lilies or plant a shrub next to the pond to add shade.

Choose plants that are evergreen so that there will not be a large seasonal influx of leaves into the pond.

Limit Nutrient Sources to Prevent Algal Blooms

Plants also need nutrients to grow. To prevent algae from blooming, stock a fish pond sensibly, but don’t overstock it. More fish are not necessarily healthier fish, and they are not always healthy for the pond, either. More fish also means more fish food in the pond.

Experiment with the correct amount of fish food for pond residents. Use netting to capture leaves so that there will not be a lot of debris in the pond. Adding plants can also help by using up some of the nutrients in the pond. If none of this works, a better pond filter may be in order.

Using Algae Killers in the Pond

While algae killers will indeed kill off pond algae, they can also disrupt the balance of the pond.

The ideal pond is one that is a healthy ecosystem that keeps itself in check. Adding pesticides to the mix will kill the algae, but it may just send it to the bottom of the pond, where it will add to the nutrient overload.

The next time the pond begins to look like pea soup, break out the shades.

Adding shade to a pond and removing the algae’s nutrient base will help minimize cloudy water without the use of algae killers, creating a healthy home for fish, invertebrates, and pond plants.


Control Infections with Soap and Warm Water: How to Avoid Catching a Cold or the Seasonal Flu

From Wisconsin in the US to Westminster in the UK, mothers across the world know that washing your hands is the best way to avoid getting the flu. It has been reliably and scientifically proven in dozens of studies over the last decade that respiratory tract infections are transmitted to humans most often because of hand-to-mouth contact.

Touching your face with your hands is the main culprit. According to studies conducted by Dr Mark Nicas, a professor of environmental health science at the University of California, Berkeley ‘virus-contaminated hand contact with facial membranes’ accounts for the greatest pathway for a person to acquire a flu or cold.

Hand-to-mouth Contact is the Main Reason People Catch Colds

Touching your eyes is seemingly one of the most vulnerable targets by which germs can enter the body, along with through the mouth and nostrils. Hand contact with facial membranes is often an unconscious habit. A study performed in Berkeley by Professor Nicas among 10 university students and reported in the summer of 2009 revealed that on average the students touched their faces 47 times during a three hour period.

At that rate, the level of transmission from infectious, contaminated surfaces like shared computer keyboards, cell phones, desk tops, and so forth, to hands and facial membranes is very high.

How to Wash Hands and Keep Seasonal Flu Under Control

The Center for Disease Control recommends washing hands with soap and warm water for at least 15 seconds. Washing in cold water is not nearly as effective. Wet hands with warm water and apply soap, either liquid or bar soap and lather well.

Wash all parts of the hands including fingernails, and dry hands on a clean towel. It is also recommended to turn off the water using a cloth or paper towel. Doctors themselves suggest humming to the tune of 'Happy Birthday' while washing hands to ensure that the proper amount of time is spent washing in order to kill pathogens.
 

Alcohol-based Hand Cleansers are Good for Controlling Infections

When soap and warm water are not available, the second most effective way to keep your hands germ free is to use an alcohol-based hand cleanser, or a gel sanitizer, or disposable hand wipes. Alcohol kills germs but it is essential to rub hands fully and vigorously with gel and continue to rub until hands are dry.

Check the active ingredients. The amount of alcohol concentration needs to be at least 60% or above. Less than a 60% concentration of alcohol in hand sanitizers is not sufficient to kill microbes.

Hands-up for Hand Washing and the Best way to Avoid Swine Flu and the H1N1 Virus

Developing good hand hygiene is essential in order to stay healthy in today's world. It's a proven and simple, yet effective tool for controlling infectious respiratory illnesses, like swine flu, that affect us all. All you need is warm water, add soap, and sing 'Happy Birthday' to yourself.


Backyard Habitat - Water for Wildlife

Good wildlife habitats offer not only water, but food and shelter. Add water features to a backyard habitat to attract various species of animals. Replenish water during summer months to keep it fresh, and maintain an ice-free source during winter. There are a variety of types to choose from, from very simple to rather complex.

Traditional Bird Bath

A pedestal bird bath can be purchased at any home and garden store.

They are made of various materials, from concrete to metal. To increase the allure of the bath to wildlife, add dripping water. A drip attachment can be purchased and added to the edge of the bath, or a garden hose can be hung in overhanging branches and set to slowly drip into the birdbath.

The birdbath should be brought inside during winter, or kept thawed with a heater or warming light bulb. Water can be a scarce commodity in winter, so providing a source in your backyard habitat will surely attract a variety of creatures.

To make an easy inexpensive bird bath, a Birds and Blooms reader suggested using a conical tomato cage and two plastic plant trays of varying sizes that will fit in the rings. Push the legs of the tomato cage into the ground to stabilize it, and settle one tray into the top ring and one into the bottom ring, notching out the rim of bottom tray to fit around the wire legs.

Tub Fountain

Obtain a container that holds approximately twenty-five gallons of water, such has a half a whiskey barrel, a plastic tub, or a piece of pottery, and line it with thick plastic sheeting (twenty-mil minimum) attached to the rim if the container is not waterproof.

Choose a location that receives a minimum of five hours of direct sunlight each day. Set the container on a level surface, or bury it in the ground to the rim; fill with water.

Add a filter and pump (combination can be obtained at home and garden stores for approximately $25) to keep container clean, circulate the water, and attract wildlife. Stack enough bricks or stones inside the tub to break the water’s surface in order to provide a perching place for wildlife that comes to drink from the fountain.

Bring the tub inside during winter if temperatures drop below freezing, or invest in a heater to prevent water from freezing.

In-ground Pond

Dig a shallow pit at the base of a slope or in a low area to take advantage of natural drainage and line with thick plastic sheeting (twenty-mil minimum). Secure the plastic with large rocks around the pond’s edge. Add a pump and filter to prevent the water from becoming stagnant and to keep algae at bay, and fill the pond with water.

Add plants to filter the water and help keep it clean, such as water hyacinth, arrowhead, yellow flag iris, or anacharis. Some plants can be floated directly in the water; others, such as some lilies, need to be planted in individual pots using heavy garden (not potting) soil and submerged in the pond.

Misters/Other Water Sources

Lots of wildlife may not drink from a dish of water, but will lap up droplets off of natural surfaces such as leaves or branches. Misters can be attached to a garden hose and angled into a corner of the yard providing shelter and perches to attract hummingbirds and butterflies. Add a shallow pan of wet sand or gravel from which bees and butterflies can drink, as they cannot land in and drink from standing water like a bird bath.

Basics of a Water Garden: The Beginnings of Planning a Mini Water Garden

A fun and interesting accent to any garden or patio is a mini water garden. A miniature pond can bring a sense of peace and tranquility, a feng shui balance, and a simple splash of beauty to any home. By choosing the type and size of the container a mini water garden can be designed for any location.

Choose a Container

The container holding a mini water garden can be above ground or below ground. Any holder can be buried and lined to seal it.

For above ground containers, choose a look that accents the space. Galvanized tanks and glazed ceramic pots can be used.

An old bathtub with a blocked plug can give a whimsical look. An old wood barrel or metal tank can look cute on a patio or balcony. Since containers can come in most any size, so can a mini water garden.

Seal the Container

It is very important to seal the container being used to ensure water will not leak out. Some containers are sealed already, such as galvanized metal. If there is an opening, just seal it with a rubber plug or plumbers putty, and it's ready to go.

Other metals will rust without sealing, porous ceramics will leak, and woods can have chemicals that will contaminate the water.

To protect the water and plants, paint the interior of the container with a rubberized paint or install a rubber liner.

Choose Water Garden Plants

Water gardens are mini ecosystems, so the right mix of plants is a necessity. The water should only be visible for about 20 percent of the water surface. There are several types of plants to choose from and create a visual balance. Floating plants can cover much of the surface and feed the fish.

Oxygenating plants grow under the surface. Bog plants like wet feet and can be grown around the edges of the garden or as a background, creating a taller accent. Deeper growing plants, like water lilies, cover the surface and provide color.

The right mix of types depends on how large the garden is and whether there are fish.

Choose the Right Animals

Goldfish or carp are a great addition to a water garden. They are soothing to watch and will eat mosquito eggs in the still water. Snails can also be added to eat the algae on the sides of the container and improve the water health. To make the garden a learning ground for children, add tadpoles and watch them develop into frogs.

Plants can be provided to feed the different animals, but sometimes it is also fun to go out and feed them by hand. Decide which suits best, or go for a combination of both.

Choosing Soil for a Water Garden

Avoid using planting soil for a water garden. This soil is too light and will float away in the water.

Also, avoid soils with incorporated fertilizers as this will just encourage algae growth. Rather, use heavy top soils, premixed with water to make it heavy and muddy.

Cover the soil with pebbles to add the stability. Put the soil in pots, then sink the pots to different levels in the container to suit the different types of plants. Prop pots on bricks or stones for plants that only need a few inches of water, and put pots on the bottom of the container for deeper rooted plants.

Lay Out the Water Garden

Locate the plants so shallow ones are around the edges or at the back so the water surface is visible.

Deeper footed plants and floating plants go in the middle of the pond. Rocks and small sculptures can also be added as accent pieces around the pond or at the edges of the higher pots.

Add Water

Water should be filled to the rim of the pond. Water in a heavily chlorinated area needs to be prepared before going into the pond. Fill another container with water in advance, and let it sit for 48 hours. The chlorine will settle out in that time, and can be bailed into the water garden. The chlorine will stay gone if the water is not disturbed too much. Remember to keep some water available to replace water lost to evaporation over time.

Wintering a Water Garden

Depending on the region, the water may freeze in the winter. Be prepared to provide an indoor home for fish and some of the plants in the winter if this is a concern.

Put these components and considerations together to create a mini water garden. No space is too small for a mini water garden to be added.