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Where is the original “Zealand”?Answer – The Netherlands – There’s a reason why everyone’s favorite Middle Earth stand-in is called New Zealand. While famous English explorer Captain Cook was the first European to map out the islands when he landed there in 1769, it was actually a Dutch explorer named Abel Tasman who first discovered them more than a century earlier, in 1642. The Dutch cartographers later named the land Nova Zeelandia in honor of a province in the Netherlands; the name itself means simply “sea-land,” which is fitting in both cases. It already had a name among the native Māori people, of course: Aotearoa, which translates quite beautifully to Land of the Long White Cloud. After Captain Cook arrived, the Dutch name was later anglicized to New Zealand and has remained ever since.:
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