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History - Bay of Islands, New Zealand

pohutukawa"I have named the Bay of Islands" wrote Lieutenant James Cook. It was late November 1769. The red pohutukawa flowers would have been fringing the land, with every cicada rasping in the worlds biggest orchestra.

The Polynesians weren't too sure about these visitors. The ship HM Endeavour was the biggest thing they had seen for 800 years. The meetings were amicable though Cook fared better than du Fresne-he was eaten. Cook let the word out and they came.

Whalers for provisions. Missionaries for converts. endeavourSpeculators for land. Traders for resources. The British took it all with the 1840 signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. But the treaty had different meanings for different people. Cultural clashes climaxed with the sacking of Kororareka 1845 (now Russell) as Hone Heke felled the Union Jack for the fourth and last time. Peace and wars followed for the next 20 odd years

The Bay became a sleepy backwater until American writer Zane Grey pitched a tent and caught an marlin here in1926, the world heard about it. Continued international fishing competitions kept the Bay of Islands a premier destination.

Only now it is not just for fishing. You can dive, sail, camp, cruise or fly the Islands. 7654 hectares of it is preserved forever as the Bay of Islands Maritime and Historic Park. From archaeological heaven on Urupukapuka Island, this park is easy to enjoy. As Joseph Banks, one of the inevitable discoverers of 1769 wrote: "The Bay itself beautiful, with many good anchorages, the hills and valleys round it, forests and cultivations beautiful also". Some things don't change.

Maori place name: Maori name for New Zealand is Aotearoa means "Land of the long white cloud". Ao (cloud), tea (white), roa (long).

 
 
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