Poverty Bay

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Location of Poverty Bay

Poverty Bay (Māori: Tūranganui-a-kiwa) is the largest of several small bays on the east coast of New Zealand's North Island to the north of Hawke Bay. It stretches for 10 kilometres (6 mi) from Young Nick's Head in the southwest to Tuaheni Point in the northeast. The city of Gisborne is located on the northern shore of the bay. The name is often used by extension to refer to the entire area surrounding the city of Gisborne. Poverty Bay is the home of the iwi Te Aitanga-a-Māhaki, Rongowhakaata and Ngāi Tāmanuhiri.

The first European known to have set foot in New Zealand, Captain James Cook, did so here on 7 October 1769 (at which time it was known as Teoneroa[1]). This first meeting led to the deaths of 6 local Māori during skirmishes with the crew. Although he was able to obtain some herbs to ward off scurvy,[1] Cook was unable to gain many of the provisions he and his crew needed at the bay, and for this reason gave it the name Poverty Bay.

Poverty Bay is one of the more fertile areas of New Zealand and famous for its Chardonnay, fruit, vegetables and avocados, with abundant sunshine and fertile alluvial soil.[citation needed]

Catchment and sediment supply[edit]

The bay is fed by the Waipaoa River, whose catchment is 2,205 km2 (851 sq mi) - large enough for individual storms and events to have a small impact on the sedimentary outflow. The river's alluvial buffering is also minimal, and 95% of sediments are trapped by subduction-related anticlines on the bay's seaward flank. This has led to Poverty Bay becoming a case area for sedimentary studies.[2] The sediments of the bay provide records of changes brought about by the onset of the ENSO, colonisation of New Zealand by Polynesians (and associated deforestation), subsequent deforestation by westerners, and the Taupō eruption.[2]

Poverty Bay Massacre[edit]

In 1868, Te Kooti, a Maori rebel leader, landed at Whareongaonga Bay, near Young Nick's Head in Poverty Bay, with 300 mostly Hauhau warriors with women and children, in the schooner Rifleman. Having overcome the crew without bloodshed, he made an escape from the Chatham Islands where he and these Hauhau (Māori) had been incarcerated without trial. From there, he ventured inland to wage guerilla war on the armed constabulary and sympathetic Maori for several years, as well as several raids on settlers and antipathetic Maori villages. On 10 November 1868, Te Kooti and his followers attacked the township of Matawhero on the outskirts of Gisborne. Some 54 people were slaughtered, including women and children. The dead included 22 local Māori as well as European settlers.[3][4]


  1. ^ a b Walter Reginald Brook Oliver. "Sir Joseph Banks and Dr Solander (Cook's First Voyage)". Botanical Discovery in New Zealand: The Visiting Botanists. School Publications Branch, New Zealand Education Department. pp. 6–7. Retrieved 1 January 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Phillips Jonathan D. (2007). "Controls on sediment export from the Waipaoa River basin, New Zealand". Basin Research 19: 241. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2117.2007.00325.x. 
  3. ^ The Poverty Bay Massacre
  4. ^ "By A Poverty Bay Survivor". "A Dark Chapter from New Zealand History". Project Gutenberg. James Wood. Retrieved 12 January 2018. 

Coordinates: 38°42′S 177°58′E / 38.700°S 177.967°E / -38.700; 177.967