Conquistador Puzzle Trail

For your information:
Was New Zealand visited by Spanish and/or Portuguese explorers before Abel Tasman? As author Winston Cowie says, review the evidence presented and judge for yourself.

Everybody has heard something about the Conquistador Puzzle whether it be about alleged caravels wrecked on Dargaville’s coast; ‘Spanish’ helmets being found and reburied on the Pouto Peninsula; oral tradition of sailors coming ashore and being massacred by Maori or Aborigines; pohutukawas on the far side of the world; or the Napier Broome Bay cannon or Mahogany ship in Australia, to name a few.

Praised by both the Portuguese and Spanish embassies to New Zealand, Conquistador Puzzle Trail takes the reader through each Iberian puzzle piece, puts the arguments for and against its antiquity to the reader, and encourages the reader to decide what part of the Conquistador Puzzle that piece forms.

Each puzzle piece is presented to the public (or history student) on its own merit; I explain how I came across it, what or who is the source of the puzzle piece, and let you decide where it fits into the theoretical framework. If a puzzle piece doesn’t fit, it doesn’t fit; I have not tried to twist a puzzle piece to fit with a theory. Each puzzle piece is what it is and means what it means.

All the pieces of this perplexing puzzle, however, should at the very least lead to the reader agreeing that a different theory does exist to that of the traditional discovery paradigm of New Zealand and Australia; that being that the Spanish and / or Portuguese may have been the first Europeans to discover New Zealand. And in my view, the Portuguese, most likely and on the balance of probabilities, discovered New Zealand and Australia between 1520 and 1524. And the Spanish may have also beaten Abel Tasman between 1576-1578. In saying that, it’s not what I think that is important, its what you, the public, thinks about the theory that is important. I’ve merely had a go at putting together the puzzle based on best available information.

What better way to teach and encourage independent thought amongst students than say: “here is the information; how do you think it fits together?” My book facilitates this with questions and answers at the end of each section. It may also inspire students to research further aspects of Iberian discovery theory – there is much more to do!


Praise for Conquistador Puzzle Trail

Embassy of Spain to New Zealand

“We feel incredibly fortunate to witness such a thorough investigation into the history of New Zealand in which we can really appreciate the links shared with Portuguese and Spanish explorers. In our case, the confirmation of these ties between Spain and New Zealand will undoubtedly strengthen the positive relationship that our two countries already share and cherish.

Well-structured and impeccably researched, this important work will have a strong impact on the academic representation of conquistadores as well as a wide array of consequences for the future understanding of New Zealand history.

At the same time, we would like to acknowledge all of the time and energy devoted to the research that has gone into this investigative work. Throughout the pages, we discover new elements of New Zealand culture and history that invite us to truly believe that Mr Winston Cowie´s theory is correct.

Congratulations on the completion of this excellent work.”

Embassy of Portugal to Australia and New Zealand

“A fascinating book and an important contribution for the investigation about the Portuguese having been the first Europeans to reach Australia and New Zealand almost 500 years ago.”

Conquistador Puzzle Trail by Winston Cowie (2)

History Books in School Libraries BWB Publishing Trust

The BWB Publishing Trust is delighted to announce that a group of key BWB titles on New Zealand history are being distributed to all New Zealand secondary school libraries in August 2015. This donation has been made with the generous support of the Grace Memorial Trust, the Stout Trust (with the Friends of the Turnbull Library), and the family of Emeritus Professor Alan Ward.

The Books in School Libraries programme has been developed by the BWB Publishing Trust to support learning about New Zealand in secondary schools. We believe that high quality, contemporary books about New Zealand’s past and present are important for young New Zealanders to gain an understanding of their country. These commitments have been acknowledged by the Grace Memorial Trust and the Stout Trust, both independent trusts established by New Zealanders with a strong commitment to the value of knowledge and education.

The Ward family, supporting the distribution of An Unsettled History by the late Alan Ward, share these commitments. We would like to acknowledge here the advice and support of Gillian Candler, Lara Hearn-Rollo, Bridget Schumann, and Mark Sheehan. And, not least, the contribution of history teachers from around the country who have read and selected history titles from the BWB list for the Books in School Libraries programme, and written Teacher Notes for each book in the programme.

This has been invaluable in establishing the programme both with funders, and, we trust, within school libraries.

The BWB Publishing Trust and the donors would like to hear from you – teachers and librarians – about the Books in School Libraries programme. Please tell us whatever you would like to! Is this valuable? How will you and your students use these books? Is there anything we can do better? Please email your responses to Jo Scully,

New Zealand history, as you will know, stands at the heart of BWB’s publishing, and we hope that these books will find keen readers in your school libraries.

Books in 2015 distribution

Teacher notes Unsettled History 

Teacher notes Treaty Settlements 

Teacher notes Treaty of Waitangi

Teacher notes Dancing on our Bones 

Teacher notes Webs of Empire 

Teacher notes Panguru and the City 

Teacher notes In-Visible Sight 

Teacher notes I Shall Not Die 

Teacher notes Beyond the Imperial Frontier 


HTANSW Conference Norfolk Island January 2016

Information on the up coming HTANSW Conference on Norfolk Is in January 2016 can be found here:

Norfolk Travel Costs and Dates

HTANSW January 2016 Norfolk Island Conference Program

ACER Research Conference Melbourne 16th-18th August 2015

The theme is Learning Assessments, Designing the Future.   One of our key presenters this year is Dr Rosemary Hipkins from NZCER exploring the question, “Should generic curriculum capabilities be assessed?”
The early bird discount ends on 17 July, so this is the ideal time to promote to you networks. There is also a special group discount for registrations of 10 or more. This year’s Research Conference is being held on 16-18 August at Crown, Southbank in Melbourne.  More information can be found here

NZQA Seeking Feedback from Students

Open for Consultation 20 May 2015 – 30 Jun 2015

NZQA invites learners’ feedback on the proposal to develop a ‘Universal’ Record of Achievement.

New Zealanders are increasingly mobile. As they move to a new job or onto further learning, they want their skills and qualifications to be quickly and easily recognised. Their learning needs to be portable and transferable.

Currently NZQA maintains the Record of Achievement. This is the official transcript of all the national qualifications and standards that a person has achieved.

There has been a change in learners’ requests for copies of their Records of Achievement: request for paper copies has levelled off, and more learners are asking for electronic transcripts for use in e-CVs and other online applications.

NZQA would like to know if learners want the Record of Achievement as it is or if a more comprehensive record that displays all the qualifications and other learning they have achieved would be more useful.

What do you think about the idea of a ‘Universal’ Record of Achievement? What would you expect to see recorded on it?

Oral History Workshops: Auckland

The Alexander Turnbull Library is offering our popular introductory oral history workshops in Auckland.

These workshops are for people considering using oral history in their work, community or personal projects.

The New Zealand flag – your chance to decide

New Zealanders have the chance to decide in the upcoming flag referendums – whether to keep the existing flag or choose a new design.

This resource in English and te reo Māori is designed to help teachers, leaders, students, and whānau as they engage with the flag consideration process in their school community.

Within the resource there are links to The New Zealand Curriculum, resources to help explore personal and national identity, and ideas to guide the replication of the referendum process within your school.

The resource caters for students from years 1–10 and can be adapted to suit the learners in your classroom.

Magna Carta 800th Anniversary New Zealand – June Events Update

2015 is the 800th anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta which established the rule of law and foundations for the advancement of rights.

The Magna Carta 800 Committee for New Zealand is working to encourage celebration of the anniversary under the theme Celebrating the past; Reflecting on the present; Imagining the future.

Below is a list of events coming up in the month of June. For more information see

June 9th: Canterbury Historical Association Panel: Magna Carta – Rights & Legacies
June 14th: A Service of Commemoration at Holy Trinity Cathedral
June 15th: Judicial Review and Rule of Law Talk, Victoria University
June 15th: Lighting of Auckland War Museum
June 15th: Reception at Parliament commemorating the 800th anniversary
June 19th: Special feature in the NZ Law Society’s magazine LawTalk 
June 23rd: National Library public event in Wellington
June onwards: New Zealand Parliament marking of the anniversary
June, date tbc: Auckland Bell Ringers Peal of Bells

Also, registrations are now open for a week long public lecture series in July at Auckland University – see