Nelson's history is a very colourful one. It played a big part in the Colonial era of New Zealand, that history can be viewed at the many well preserved historic sites and museums in the region today.
Maori first visited this area about 900 years ago.
Able Tasman, the Dutch explorer with his crew's of the ships Heemskerck and Zeehaen, were the first European's to find New Zealand. In December 1639, while anchored in the Golden Bay, the Dutch fleet was attacked by local Maori, who killed 4 of his sailors. As Abel left, apparently in quite a hurry, without setting foot on land, he named the place "Murderers Bay".
In 1770, Captain James Cook was the first European to fully explore the area.
In 1842, the first immigrant ships arrived from England. European settlement of the region began under the leadership of Captain Arthur Wakefield, founder of the New Zealand Company. After making a few dodgy deals with the local Maori, Nelsoncity, was formed. Eventually a dispute over land, with local Maori, in the Wairau area came to blows, which resulted in the Wairau massacre, where 22 settlers were killed.
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