Marc-Joseph Marion du Fresne (May 22, 1724 - June 12, 1772) was a French explorer. He was born in Saint Malo and joined the French East India Company at the age of 11 (which was not uncommon at the time) as a sub-lieutenant aboard the Duc de Bourgogne.
When the French East India Company collapsed and was dissolved in 1769, du Fresne was suddenly unemployed. He convinced Pierre Poivre, the civil administrator, to equip him with two ships and send him on a two-fold mission: first, he was to bring Ahu-toru, a Tahitian who had been brought to Paris and exposed there, but brought back only as far as Mauritius, back to Tahiti, and second, he was to search for the southern continent. Du Fresne was given two ships, the Mascarin and the Marquis de Castries. Ahu-toru died of smallpox shortly after their departure from Port Louis.
On his expedition, he discovered first the Prince Edward Islands and then the Crozet Islands before sailing towards Australia. They spent a few days in Tasmania, where Marion Bay in the south-east is named after him, before proceeding, and he sighted New Zealand's Mount Taranaki or Mount Egmont on March 25, 1772. He named the mountain Pic Mascarin without knowing that James Cook had named it "Mount Egmont" three years earlier.
Over the next month, they explored the islands, repaired their ships and treated their scurvy, first anchoring at Anchor Cove and later in the Bay of Islands. Apparently, their relations with the Māori were peaceful at first: they could communicate thanks to Tahitian vocabulary (a legacy of Ahu-toru's (mis-)adventure), and the Māori even held a ceremony for them.
However, the French appear to have broken tapu "tapu" (extremely prohibited, sacred, untouchable by human contact) in Manawaora Bay, tapu was placed on the area as members of the local tribe had drowned here some time earlier, and their bodies had been washed up at Tacoury's Cove. It was in this area that du Fresne had been fishing one day, in spite of Māori warning du fresne about the extreme "tapu" of the area.
When the local Maori's learnt of du Fresne fishing in the "tapu" bay created anger with in the locals not only would this incur the wrath of the gods but would anger neighbouring tribes and be a cause for war so on July 12, 1772, An angered group of a few hundred Māori warriors set on du Fresne and his fishing crew who had unsuspectingly arrived in his favourite fishing area in a small "gig". du Fresne and twenty six men of his crew were killed and eaten by the upset Māori,
The ill-fated fishing party was made up this day of : de Vaudricourt and Lehoux, Pierre - a volunteer, Thomas Ballu of Vannes, Pierre Mauclair - the second pilot, from St Malo, Louis Menager - the steersman from Lorient, Vincent Kerneur of Port-Louis and Marc Le Garff, from Lorient, Marc Le Corre of Auray, Jean Mestique of Pluvigner, Pierre Cailloche of Languidic and Mathurin Daumalin of Hillion..
Lieutenant Crozet went with a small party in search for du frense when he did not return to the Mascarin, when Crozet learnt of there deaths, he returned to the ship
In retaliation, the French burnt down a village named Paeroa killing 250 Māori before leaving, they named the bay "Ance des Assasinats" (Assassination Cove).
They left on 12th July 1772, the French buried a bottle at Waipoa, on Moturua. Within the bottle were enclosed the arms of France and a formal statement taking possession of the whole country; with the name of "France Australe."
THE DAY I NEARLY BLEW UP DAVID ATTENBOROUGH; ... and How a Randy Panda Got Me Branded a Spy. Naked Ape Author DESMOND MORRIS Looks Back on a Globe-Trotting Life of (Mis)adventure
Feb 20, 2010; Byline: by Desmond Morris WE ALL have childhood ambitions. At 14, what I wanted more than anything in the world was to become a...