Akaroa township and its main wharf
|European settlement||18 August 1840|
|Founded by||Jean François Langlois|
|• Total||1.7656 km2 (0.6817 sq mi)|
|Local iwi||Ngāi Tahu|
Akaroa is a small town on Banks Peninsula in the Canterbury region of the South Island of New Zealand, situated within a harbour of the same name. The name Akaroa is Kāi Tahu Māori for "Long Harbour", which would be spelled "Whangaroa" in standard Māori.
The town is 84 kilometres (52 mi) by road from Christchurch and is the terminus of State Highway 75. It is set on a sheltered harbour and is overlooked and surrounded by the remnants of a miocene volcano. Akaroa is entirely dependent upon rainfall on the hills.
Akaroa is a popular resort town. Many Hector's dolphins may be found within the harbour, and 'swim with the dolphins' boat tours are a major tourist attraction. In the 2013 New Zealand census, the permanent population was 624, an increase of 9.5% since 2006. The town has a high (31.3%) ratio of residents aged over 65.
In 1830, the Māori settlement at Takapuneke, just east of the current town of Akaroa, became the scene of a notorious incident. The captain of the British brig Elizabeth, John Stewart, helped North Island Ngāti Toa chief, Te Rauparaha, to capture the local Kāi Tahu chief, Tāmaiharanui, his wife Te Whe and his young daughter, Roimata. The settlement of Takapuneke was sacked. Concern over the complicity of John Stewart, amongst other lawlessness among Europeans in New Zealand, led to the appointment of an official British Resident James Busby to New Zealand in 1832 – the first step in the British involvement that led to the Treaty of Waitangi.
In 1838, Captain Jean François Langlois made a provisional purchase of land in "the greater Banks Peninsula" from 12 Kāi Tahu chiefs. A deposit of commodities in the value of £6 was paid and a further £234 worth of commodities was to be paid at a later period.
On his return to France, he advertised for settlers to go to New Zealand, and ceded his interest in the land to the Nanto-Bordelaise Company, of which he became a part owner. On 9 March 1840, 63 emigrants left from Rochefort. The settlers embarked for New Zealand on the Comte de Paris, an old man-of-war ship given to them by the French government. The Comte de Paris and its companion ship the Aube, captained by Commodore Charles-François Lavaud, arrived in the Bay of Islands in the North Island on 11 July 1840, where they discovered that, while they were at sea, the Banks Peninsula had been claimed by the British. The French arrived in Akaroa on 18 August and established a settlement.
Given that the French colonists had set out for New Zealand on the assumption that the land was theirs, the New Zealand authorities made a grant of 30,000 acres to the Nanto-Bordelaise Company, which ceded all rights to the peninsula for ₤4,500.
The area still has a French influence, reflected in many local placenames.
After being informed of the French intention to colonise Akaroa and to further its use as a whaling port, the Lieutenant-Governor of New Zealand, Captain William Hobson, sent the ship HMS Britomart to proclaim sovereignty over the area for the British Crown. HMS Britomart arrived in Akaroa on 16 August 1840, although the captain's log shows the arrival date as 11 August. Captain Stanley raised the British flag, and held a court at each of the occupied settlements, to convince the French that the area was indeed under British control. A monument at the eastern edge of the town commemorates the British arrival.
James Robinson Clough, also known as Jimmy Robinson, had arrived at Akaroa several years before. He acted as interpreter for Captain Owen Stanley at the flag-raising of 1840, and was the first Pākehā to travel up the Avon River in 1843. Clough's descendants are still prominent on the Peninsula today.
British immigrants settled in both Akaroa and German Bay (Takamatua), along with many German farmers, who set up dairy, sheep and cocksfoot (Dactylis glomerata) farms. The great majority of the artifacts currently held at Akaroa Museum are of the early farming community and their way of life at the time.
- Bob Parker (born 1953), former mayor of Banks Peninsula and former resident
- Hugh Wilson (born 1945), botanist living at Hinewai Reserve over the hill from Akaroa
- Frank Worsley (1872–1943), sailor and explorer who served on Ernest Shackleton's Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914–1916, as captain of the Endurance
Slideshow from Akaroa Bay