Story: Bay of Plenty region

Page 11. Government

All images & media in this story

Early days: law and enforcement

The reach of government in the Bay of Plenty, with its mainly Māori population, was limited in the 1840s and 1850s. The outbreak of conflict between the Crown and the Māori King movement changed this, and a thousand soldiers were deployed to Tauranga early in 1864. The soldiers gave way in 1867 to an Armed Constabulary combining military and policing roles, and in 1886 to a regular Police Force. Magistrates at Tauranga, Maketū and Ōpōtiki reported on Māori affairs to the Native Department, as well as handling regular civil and criminal cases.

Local government

When the provinces were abolished in 1876, they were replaced by a variety of new local authorities which grew as the region developed. At the regional level, a Bay of Plenty united council was established in 1981 and succeeded in 1989 by a regional council: Environment Bay of Plenty. This took over catchment boards and responsibility for regional transport. Acknowledging the lack of Māori representation in a region with a significant Māori population, Environment Bay of Plenty created two Māori wards in time for the 2004 elections. In 2019, three Māori wards elected three of the 14 councillors.


There have been a number of changes in the region’s electorate make-up. Before 1907 the name and boundaries of the electoral district changed several times; from 1908 the number of electorates varied between two and four; from 1972 the Tauranga parliamentary electorate covered only the city. In 2017 parts of Bay of Plenty fell within five electorates.

Māori electorates

On the formation of four Māori electorates in 1867, Tauranga was placed in Western Māori. The rest of the Bay, whether of Te Arawa or Mataatua affiliation, came within Eastern Māori. In 1954 the Eastern Māori electorate was extended to include all of the Bay of Plenty. From 1993 the Bay of Plenty was in the Waiariki electorate (except for the area from Waihī Beach north, which was in the Tainui electorate, later called Hauraki–Waikato).

State schools, 1900s–1970s

The first public secondary schools in the Bay of Plenty were district high schools: Tauranga (established 1900), Whakatāne (1920), Ōpōtiki (1922) and Te Puke (1924).

Tauranga College was established in 1946 and separated into girls’ and boys’ colleges in 1958, the year Mt Maunganui College was founded. Whakatāne High School dates from 1950, Ōpōtiki College from 1953, Te Puke High School from 1954 and Katikati College from 1966.

The 1960s and 1970s saw more secondary schools established: Edgecumbe College (1962), Kawerau College (1963), Ōtūmoetai (1965) at Tauranga, and Trident at Whakatāne (1973).

Māori ventures

In the 1980s local government, education and health were all restructured. New policies in health and education allowed many Māori organisations to provide services. Among the education providers are Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiarangi, a significant tertiary institution in the country as a whole. Anamata is a Ngāi Tūhoe training establishment based in Whakatāne.

How to cite this page:

Malcolm McKinnon, 'Bay of Plenty region - Government', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 20 July 2024)

Story by Malcolm McKinnon, published 5 Dec 2005, updated 1 Aug 2016