Young Nick's Head

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Young Nick's Head
Te Kuri o Pāoa
Young Nick's Head from Kaiti Beach.jpg
Young Nick's Head from Kaiti Beach
LocationPoverty Bay, New Zealand
Coordinates38°45′25″S 177°57′49″E / 38.7570°S 177.9636°E / -38.7570; 177.9636Coordinates: 38°45′25″S 177°57′49″E / 38.7570°S 177.9636°E / -38.7570; 177.9636

Young Nick's Head is a headland at the southern end of Poverty Bay in New Zealand's North Island. It is commonly associated with the discovery of New Zealand by Captain Cook.[1] The area is also cited as the landing place of the Horouta and Te Ikaroa-a-Rauru waka which carried Māori settlers to the region around 1350 AD.[2] In Māori, the promontory is named Te Kuri o Pāoa (alternatively known as Te Kuri, or Te Kuri a Pawa).[3]


Young Nick's Head was the first land sighted by the crew of Captain James Cook's ship, Endeavour on Friday 6 October, 1769.[4] Cook promised a reward to the first crewman to sight land and this reward was delivered to 12-year-old Nicholas Young, assistant to the ship's surgeon, in the form of two gallons of rum and the name of the headland.[1][5]

Prior to Cook's arrival, the headland was known to Māori as Te Kuri o Pāoa, which translates to "The Dog of Pāoa".[6] Māori legends recount that Pāoa lost his dog in the Poverty Bay area and the dog is still there waiting for his master to return. It is said if you look towards the white cliffs at dawn they resemble the outline of a dog in a crouching position.[7]

Nick's Head Station[edit]

Nick’s Head Station consists of the headland and its surrounding coastal, wetland and farming areas.[8] The 661 hectare property is currently owned by New York financier John Griffin. After acquiring the property in 2002, Griffin engaged in a long-term plan to restore the area’s vegetation and wildlife.[9] Across the station over 600,000 trees were planted, 26 hectares of wetlands were restored, and a 2-metre-high predator-proof fence was constructed as native species such as Tuatara, Blue Penguin and Weta were reintroduced.[10] In 2005 Ecoworks, an ecological restoration company in Gisborne, successfully used solar-powered, acoustic-attraction methods and artificial burrows to establish breeding colonies of six pelagic seabird species at Young Nick's Head which had previously been severely affected by human colonisation and the introduction of new predators.[11][12]

Protest of sale (2002)[edit]

Nick’s Head Station was listed for sale in November 2000. In January 2002, John Griffin entered into a contract to purchase the property for $4 million after an earlier attempt made by the Ngai Tamanuhiri iwi failed through lack of finance.[13] Protesting against foreign ownership of the culturally and historically significant land, a group of local Māori led by Tu Wyllie[14] occupied Young Nick's Head and staged protests at Parliament.[15][16]

After negotiations with iwi took place, then Finance Minister Michael Cullen announced in August 2002 that “Young Nick’s Head will be protected and the cliffs, pā site and peak of Te Kuri gifted into public ownership as part of a purchase deal for Young Nick’s Station”. Griffin also agreed upon purchasing the land to establish an open covenant through the Queen Elizabeth II National Trust to protect the remainder of the headland area from commercial development.[13]


  1. ^ a b Bernard John Foster; A. H. McLintock (1966). "Young Nick's Head". An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 28 May 2016.
  2. ^ "Captain Cook's Landing Site and Young Nick's Head". Tourism New Zealand. New Zealand Tourism Board. Retrieved 28 May 2016.
  3. ^ Rāwiri Taonui (22 September 2012). "Ngā waewae tapu – Māori exploration - The East Coast". Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 28 May 2016.
  4. ^ "Cook Landing Site National Historic Reserve" (PDF). Department of Conservation. Retrieved 28 May 2016.
  5. ^ John Wilson (15 November 2012). "European discovery of New Zealand - Cook's three voyages". Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 28 May 2016.
  6. ^ Nick Tūpara (22 September 2012). "Tūranganui-a-Kiwa tribes - Lands and ancestors". Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 28 May 2016.
  7. ^ "East Coast Bay of Plenty Conservation Board Annual Report" (PDF). Department of Conservation. 2013. p. 10. Retrieved 28 May 2016.
  8. ^ Barrett, Michael (June 2013). "Challenging the Landscape". Urbis Magazine (74). Retrieved 28 May 2016.
  9. ^ "Jet belongs to Nick's Head owner". The Gisborne Herald. 21 January 2016. Retrieved 28 May 2016.
  10. ^ "Conservation farming at work in NZ". Stuff. 1 May 2013. Retrieved 28 May 2016.
  11. ^ "The business of eco-restoration". The Gisborne Herald. Retrieved 28 May 2016.
  12. ^ Sawyer, Steve L.; Fogle, Sally R. "Acoustic attraction of grey-faced petrels (Pterodroma macroptera gouldi) and fluttering shearwaters (Puffinus gavia) to Young Nick's Head, New Zealand" (PDF). Notornis. The Ornithological Society of New Zealand, Inc. 57: 166–168. Retrieved 28 May 2016.
  13. ^ a b Michael Cullen. "Young Nick's Head protected". The Beehive. New Zealand Government. Retrieved 28 May 2016.
  14. ^ "Maori hardliner stood down". One News. TVNZ. 27 August 2002. Retrieved 28 May 2016.
  15. ^ "Griffin meets local Maori about Young Nick's Head". The New Zealand Herald. 28 February 2003. Retrieved 28 May 2016.
  16. ^ "Young Nick's Head sale on hold for six weeks". The New Zealand Herald. 28 June 2002. Retrieved 28 May 2016.