Skip to main content

What's in a name?

Origins of place names Cape Turnagain and Cape Kidnappers, as well as how Havelock North started as Havelock, a translation of the longest place name in the world and why there’s an apostrophe in the name Hawke’s Bay are all explained on the newly launched Hawke’s Bay entry on Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand.

Well-known for its warm, sunny climate, Art deco architecture and horticulture industry, some of the more unusual facts about the Hawke’s Bay region will soon be available to the wider public.

“The Hawke’s Bay is one of the most seismically active regions in the country,” said Jock Phillips, General Editor of Te Ara. “The most destructive earthquake to life and property was the 1931 earthquake, killing at least 256 people, and destroying most of central Napier and parts of other towns.”

However, the earthquake raised over 2,000 hectares of land, providing vital room for the previously water-bound town to grow. The Napier suburb of Marewa is built on land reclaimed by the earthquake. Fittingly, its name means ‘gift from the sea’.

“It is a diverse region laden with contrasts” said Kerryn Pollock, author of the Hawke’s Bay site. “The vineyard owners, gourmet food producers and traditional farming families contrast sharply with some poorer parts of the region. Hawke’s Bay also has a significant Māori population compared to national figures, especially in the Wairoa District.”

Alongside conventional museums, the Hawke’s Bay region is endowed with some more unusual establishments, including the Silky Oak Chocolate Museum near Napier, the Beatles Museum in Hastings and the Woodville Organ Museum. The Woodville Pioneer Museum has a collection of around 800 teapots, reputed to be the largest collection in New Zealand.

“As well as some of the more unusual facts about the Hawke’s Bay, the site also explores the important role the land has played in the area’s development as a source of prosperity,” said Kerryn Pollock. Horticulture is one of the most important industries of the area. The Hawke’s Bay is the second largest wine-growing region in New Zealand, and the largest producer of apples, pears and squash.

The region has also produced an array of notable New Zealanders including artist Rita Angus, who was born in Hastings; rugby legend George Nēpia, born in Wairoa and architect John Scott, born in Haumoana.

Updated on 23rd July 2015