Coastal settlement in the western Bay of Plenty, 11 km east of Waihī town.
Originally planned as a settlement for convalescent or former gold miners, it is now a popular beach and surf resort, and a retirement destination. With nearby Bowentown, it forms a zone of settlement along the Bay of Plenty coast north of the Katikati entrance to Tauranga Harbour.
In 2013 the total population of the Waihī Beach area was 2,478. 87.5% claimed European ethnicity (compared to 78.4% for the region). 24.3% were aged 65 and over (compared to the regional average of 14.3%).
Waihī Beach is long-established, while much of the housing towards Bowentown is a more recent development.
Ngā Kurī a Whārei
Reef which sets the western boundary of a rāhui (prohibition). This prohibition identifies the bounds of both the Mataatua tribes and the Bay of Plenty coastline in the phrase, ‘Mai Ngā Kurī a Whārei ki Tihirau’ – from Ngā Kurī a Whārei to Tihirau (near Cape Runaway). It was imposed generations ago by Muriwai, sister of Toroa, the captain of Mataatua canoe, when her two children were drowned near Tauranga.
Ngā Kurī a Whārei means ‘the dogs of the ancestor Whārei’. The name is usually given to a reef west of the headland at the Katikati entrance to Tauranga Harbour, adjacent to Bowentown. It refers to the way the rocks jutting from the sea look like dogs (or their ears) when they are swimming.
The name comes from Hawaiki, the Polynesian homeland of Māori. It was also formerly given to locations at Cape Colville, at the top of the Coromandel Peninsula, and to Great Mercury Island (Ahuahu).
Township 14 km south-east of Waihī Beach. The 2013 population was 672. The community is favoured by retired people (31.3% of the population is 65 and over). Some kilometres away is the Athenree homestead, built by Katikati settlers Hugh and Adela Stewart in 1879, and named after Athenry in County Tyrone, Ireland.
Settlement at the northern entrance to Tauranga Harbour. Bowentown is a small community with a high proportion of over-65s in the population.
It was probably named after George Ferguson Bowen, governor of New Zealand 1868–73, who visited the area in April 1872.
The 128-ha Bowentown Domain on the headland has several important pā sites, including Te Ho (east) and Te Kura a Maia (south). Present-day Ōtāwhiwhi pā is on the harbour shore.