Bay of Plenty, New ZealandBay of Plenty History

Bay of Plenty | Regional Information | Activity Highlights | Scenic Highlights | History

Guarding the entrance to Tauranga Harbour in the in the Bay of Plenty, Mauao (Mount Maunganui) was the landing place of the Takitimu waka about 1290 AD.

Bay of Plenty History Overview

The Bay of Plenty was aptly named by Captain James Cook on his discovery in 1769. The region today remains one of New Zealand's premier holiday destinations surrounded by white sand beaches, awesome surf, stunning harbours and an unbeatable lifestyle.

Tauranga, the main city in the Bay of Plenty region, began with humble beginnings in the 1830s and struggled through the Maori land wars. Today it is a flourishing port city.

Early History

Image Source: Tourism New Zealand. Ceremonial Maori Waka, New Zealand
Ceremonial Maori Waka
Photographer: Fay Looney

The first inhabitants to come to the Bay of Plenty were in 1290 AD when Takitimu travelled across the ocean from Hawaiki. He landed his ocean-going migration canoes at Mauao (Mount Manganui) which guards the entrance to the Tauranga Harbour.

This was the first region made home by the Maori after their epic journey across the ocean.

More than 400 years passed before being discovered by the English explorer, Captain James Cook. In 1769 he sailed around New Zealand and named the area the Bay of Plenty.

European settlement began in the early 1830s with the arrival of missionaries and traders. Trade was mostly established in flax fibre.

Tauranga City

Image Source: Tourism New Zealand. Swim between the flags, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand
Bay of Plenty Beach
Photographer: Legend Photography

Tauranga's prosperity was slowed due to land wars with the Maori in the 1860s. In fear of their lives, many settlers abandoned their land and left.

Tauranga struggled through to the 1880s where the population dropped to a little over 1,000 people. The arrival of George Vesey Stewart from Ireland in 1882 brought hope to the town. Tauranga was made a borough and Mr Stewart made the first Mayor of the town.

Over the 1900s water supply and electricity were introduced and the town began to prosper. In 1950 Tauranga was chosen as an export port for the Bay of Plenty creating many jobs and increasing the population drastically.

At the 2006 census, Tauranga City held the resident population of 103,635.

» Tauranga Travel Directory

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