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Northland, New ZealandMangonui History

Mangonui | Regional Information | Activity Highlights | Scenic Highlights | History

Many places in Northland hold historic significance. The birthplace of New Zealand, Waitangi is home to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds where the Treaty of Waitangi was first signed in 1840.

Mangonui History Overview

Mangonui is one of the oldest European settlements in New Zealand. The town has seen itself metamorphose from a rough sailor's whaling town to a milling town and now to a sleepy tourist town.

Mangonui is a historically significant place to both the Maori people and the Europeans.

Maori Legend

Image Source: Tourism New Zealand. Maori carving at Waitangi Marae in Waitangi, Northland, New Zealand
Maori Carving at Waitangi Marae
Waitangi, Northland
Photographer: Ben Crawford
(www.bencrawford.co.nz)

In the native Maori language, the name "Mangonui" means "great or big shark".

In Maori superstition Taniwha were supernatural creatures whose forms and characteristics vary according to different tribal traditions. Some have been described as fabulous monsters living in deep water, others picture them as dragons. Many taniwha looked like reptiles, had wings and ate people, some could even change their shape and move between different forms. Some taniwha took the shape of sharks and it is after this that Mangonui is named.

Mangonui is named after a guardian taniwha who in the form of a giant shark accompanied the canoe Riukaramea into the harbour.

Early History

Originally Mangonui was established as a whaling town, but over time as whaling declined the town changed into a milling town.

As a sailor's town it has in time past shared the notorious reputation of Kororareka further south (known today as Russell) as a bawdy lawless place where anything and anyone could be bought for a price, and as a place for hard liquor. In pre-1840 the British did not control New Zealand meaning British law was not enforced, this combined with the fact that local Maori law was of no interest to the settlers and the settlers themselves where of the roughest sought, meant it became a lawless town.

As time passed the whaling industry waned and the town turned to milling. The area around Mangonui had great Kauri tree forests that were treasured for their long un-knotted trunks for ships, masts, and spars. Kauri trees only grow in the upper part of the North Island and the timber was specially sought after by the British Navy.

In addition the ancient Kauri forests also left deposits of Kauri gum. Kauri gum was highly valued in Europe. Kauri gum is a fossilized resin extracted from kauri trees and was used for chewing, tattooing, and were often made into jewellery. Kauri gum was Auckland's main export in the second half of the nineteenth century, sustaining much of the early growth of the city.

Between 1850 and 1950, 450,000 tons of gum was exported. 1899 marked the peak in the gum market, with 11,116 tons exported in one year.

Mangonui Accommodation

Mangonui is a popular tourist destination and offers a wide range of accommodation options:

View more Mangonui Accommodation options.

Useful Mangonui Links

To help plan your Mangonui holiday choose from the main categories below:

Mangonui Region Information

Mangonui Tourism Operators

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Featured

 
Mainstay New Zealand Hotels

Mainstay NZ Hotels

Large collection of independent hotels.

Choice Hotels

Choice Hotels

Holiday packages for any occasion.