It is not precisely known when indigenous Maori discovered Aotearoa (New Zealand) exactly and neither, when the first iwi (tribes) settled along the coast of what is known today as Abel Tasman National Park. However, researchers conclude from archaeological findings that iwi started to occupy the north of the South Island between 500 and 600 years ago. These coastal areas were partly of seasonal use, since the shoreline was rich in seafood (kaimana) and suitable to grow forms of the kumara (sweet potato).

In December 1642, Abel Janszoon Tasman, a Dutch navigator, and his crew anchored New Zealand near Wainui Bay as the first Europeans. On behalf of the Dutch East India Company, he had set out to explore the mythical southern continent. However, they never went ashore due to a violent encounter with the Ngati Tumatakokiri, the iwi that, at that time, was residing near Taupo Point.

The predominance of the Ngati Tumatakokiri within the region did not last long. In the very beginning of the 19th century, invading tribes from the north, east and south overcame their dominance in order to occupy the land that was so rich in food and resources.

After Captain James Cook had visited New Zealand in 1770 and 1773, it was the French explorer Dumont D'Urville who was next in line. He travelled along the eastern side where he then anchored near Torrent Bay. D'Urville noted several settlements on the coastline and named Adele Island after his wife.
What followed was permanent European settlement, as the New Zealand Company began to search for cultivable land. In the midst of the 19th century, entire forests had already been transformed into ships or burnt to be used for pasture.

At the edge of the 20th century, locals started to think about nature conservation due to extensive logging. A first success was a preliminary State Forest Park that was established around 1920. Thanks to Perrine Moncrieff and her continuous effort of pressuring the government, official advisors finally granted her petition in March 1942. Moncrieff also proposed to open the park in honour of Abel Tasman's 300th anniversary in December 1942.
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