Mahia Peninsula, Isthmus, Beach, and township all lie at the north-eastern end of Hawke Bay, on the east coast of the North Island. The peninsula, 13½ miles long and 7 miles wide, rises to its highest point at Te Kapu, 1,302 ft. It is composed of soft rocks ranging in age from upper Cretaceous to uppermost Tertiary, the youngest in the west and and the oldest in the east. The younger rocks of Waitotaran (upper Pliocene) age contain thick beds of water-laid pumice, and dip gently south-west into Hawke Bay. The isthmus is tied to the mainland near Opoutama by a beach and dunesand ridge. The area is deservedly a popular seaside resort. The chief activity of the area is sheep farming with some beef cattle. Maori legend states that Whatonga, who came to New Zealand in search of his grandfather, Toi, settled at Mahia. Portland Island, the site of a lighthouse, is a small island off the southern tip of Mahia Peninsula. The name Mahia means “indistinct sound”.
by Thomas Ludovic Grant-Taylor, M.SC., New Zealand Geological Survey, Lower Hutt.