Cape Kidnappers

Coordinates: 39°38′40.89427″S 177°05′35.73″E / 39.6446928528°S 177.0932583°E / -39.6446928528; 177.0932583
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Cape Kidnappers / Te Kauwae-a-Māui
Cape Kidnappers
Looking northeast towards Cape Kidnappers / Te Kauwae-a-Māui
Looking northeast towards Cape Kidnappers / Te Kauwae-a-Māui
Cape Kidnappers is located in New Zealand
Cape Kidnappers
Cape Kidnappers
Location of Cape Kidnappers / Te Kauwae-a-Māui in New Zealand
Coordinates: 39°38′40.89427″S 177°05′35.73″E / 39.6446928528°S 177.0932583°E / -39.6446928528; 177.0932583
Offshore water bodiesSouth Pacific Ocean
Formed byErosion
Native name
Sheep grazing at Cape Kidnappers

Cape Kidnappers, known in Māori as Te Kauwae-a-Māui and officially gazetted as Cape Kidnappers / Te Kauwae-a-Māui, is a headland at the southeastern extremity of Hawke's Bay on the east coast of New Zealand's North Island and sits at the end of an 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) peninsula which protrudes into the Pacific Ocean. It is 20 kilometres (12 mi) south-east of the city of Napier. Access to the cape by road stops at Clifton, which is the departure point for many tourists visiting the gannet colony.[2] The Cape Kidnappers Golf Course lies between the headland and the nearby coastal community of Te Awanga.

The cliffs towards the cape are made up of sandstone, conglomerate, mudstone, river gravel, pumice and silt.[3] The land surrounding the cape and the gannet colony comprises large working farms grazing sheep and cattle. The peninsula, including farm land and the bird colony locations, is enclosed in a predator-proof fence built in 2007 to prevent introduced predators such stoats, ferrets, and feral cats re-invading the headland[4] after a successful and still ongoing pest-control programme.[5]


The headland was named after an attempt by local Māori to, according to Captain Cook, abduct a member of Cook's crew aboard HMS Endeavour, during a landfall there on 15 October 1769. The crew member was Taiata, the 12 year old nephew or servant of Tupaia, the Tahitian arioi who served as the Endeavour's interpreter and guide. Cook's journal states that Taiata was over the side of the ship when a Maori fishing vessel approached the Endeavour offering to trade fish, before seizing the boy and attempting to flee with him. Sailors from Endeavour′s deck immediately opened fire on the fishing boat, killing two Māori and wounding a third.[6]

Ngāti Te Whatuiāpiti's perspective is that Rangatira Te Rangikoianake and his son Hawea led a rescue party in order to free what they thought was a young Māori boy being held captive on the ship. This history was acknowledged in the 2015 Heretaunga Tamatea Deed of Settlement with the Crown.[7]

Taiata promptly jumped overboard and swam back to Endeavour, while the remaining Māori paddled their craft back to shore. A 4-pounder cannon was fired after them from Endeavour′s quarterdeck, but the Māori boat was soon out of range.[6]

“…one of the fishing boat came along side and offer’d us some more fish, the Indian Boy Tiata, Tupia’s servant being over the side, they seized hold of him, pulld him into the boat and endeavourd to carry him off, this obliged us to fire upon them which gave the Boy an opportunity to jump over board and we brought the Ship too, lower’d a boat into the Water and took him up unhurt. Two or three paid for this daring attempt with the loss of their lives and many more would have suffered had it not been for fear of killing the boy. This affair occation’d my giveing this point of land the name of Cape Kidnappers…’

Cook described the cape as having steep white cliffs on either side, with two large rocks resembling hay stacks near the headland.[6]

Following the passage of the Heretaunga Tamatea Claims Settlement Act 2018, the name of the headland was officially altered to Cape Kidnappers / Te Kauwae-a-Māui.[8] The Māori portion of the name refers to 'the fish hook of Māui', referring to a legend in which the North Island is a large fish which was caught by the demigod Māui.

Important Bird Area[edit]

The cape has been identified as an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International[9] because it is a breeding site for over 6500 pairs of Australasian gannets. The numbers have steadily increased in the past two decades, making this gannet colony the largest and most accessible mainland colony in the world.[3] The gannet nesting season is from mid-September to mid-December, with the juvenile chicks staying as late as May to migrate to Australia.

Tourists can either reach the cape and gannet colony by walking along the coast, or by private minibus tours via an inland road that was built to service the golf course and resort.[10] A tour along the coast with passenger trailers pulled by a tractor operated for more than 70 years before closing in 2023.[11] This came after the beach track was closed and the tours suspended for two years following a landslide in 2019 that injured three tourists.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Pollock, Kerryn. "Naming Cape Kidnappers / Te Kauwae-a-Māui". Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 2022-09-11.
  2. ^ "Cape Kidnappers visitor experience management plan" (PDF). Department of Conservation. July 2020. p. 2. Retrieved 14 August 2023.
  3. ^ a b "Cape Kidnappers/Te Kauwae-a-Māui Gannet Reserve". Department of Conservation. July 2020. Retrieved 14 August 2023.
  4. ^ Simon Hendery (4 July 2015). "Pushing for a predator-free NZ". Hawke's Bay Today. Retrieved 14 August 2023.
  5. ^ Linda Hall (23 September 2014). "Working hard to preserve seabirds". Hawke's Bay Today. Retrieved 14 August 2023.
  6. ^ a b c Beaglehole, John (1968). Beaglehole. pp. 177–178.
  7. ^ Pollock, Kerryn (1 July 2015). "Naming Cape Kidnappers / Te Kauwae-a-Māui". Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Archived from the original on 2019-06-07. Retrieved 2 January 2022.
  8. ^ "NZGB notices – August 2018". Land Information New Zealand. 28 August 2018. Retrieved 5 October 2018.
  9. ^ BirdLife International. "Important Bird Areas factsheet: Cape Kidnappers". BirdLife. Archived from the original on 2007-07-10. Retrieved 2012-12-11.
  10. ^ "Cape Kidnappers visitor experience management plan" (PDF) (pdf). Department of Conservation. July 2020. p. 7. Retrieved 14 August 2023.
  11. ^ Gianina Schwanecke (8 May 2023). "'Iconic, much loved' Hawke's Bay beach tour operator closes after 70 years". Retrieved 14 August 2023.
  12. ^ Andre Chumko (23 January 2019). "Two hurt, one critically in dramatic seaside landslide near Clifton, Hawke's Bay". Retrieved 14 August 2023.


  • Beaglehole, J.C., ed. (1968). The Journals of Captain James Cook on His Voyages of Discovery, vol. I:The Voyage of the Endeavour 1768–1771. Cambridge University Press. OCLC 223185477.

External links[edit]