Story: Hawke’s Bay places

Page 4. Southern coast

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Coastal settlement south of Cape Kidnappers. Waimārama and the surrounding district had a 2013 population of 1,083. This highlights the growing popularity of coastal properties near major centres as places to live permanently, rather than just holiday. The hills inland run sheep and beef cattle, and are dotted with exotic pine forests. The beach is popular with swimmers and surfers.

Blerta commune

Members of the eccentric 1970s travelling band Blerta (Bruno Lawrence’s Electric Revelation and Travelling Apparition), including Bruno Lawrence and Geoff Murphy, owned land at Waimārama. It functioned as a commune called Snoring Waters, and was a base for the band and their families.

Kahurānaki (646 m) is the highest summit on the coastal hill country.


Many and kāinga (villages) were located on or near the coast around Waimārama, which by the beginning of the 19th century contained a relatively large Māori population. Whalers were the first European settlers. Unlike the rest of Hawke’s Bay, the area remained in Māori ownership until the early 20th century, though parts were leased to European runholders from about 1860.

Fighting for her rights

Airini Donnelly did not confine herself to conflict over land in Waimārama, and did not limit her fights to the courts. In 1889 at Ōmāhu, near Hastings, her followers ploughed contested land relating to the will of chief Rēnata Kawepō. Donnelly’s brother was shot and wounded by the supporters of her opponent, William Mātenga Broughton. Earlier that year she had been charged with forcible entry to the land, while Broughton was charged with breaking into the tent of one of her followers and ‘throwing it off the ground’.1

Waimārama became famous in the legal world for ongoing litigation from the late 19th century into the early 20th century over leasehold rights between runholders Airini Donnelly (a Ngāti Kahungunu woman of mana married to an Irish settler) and Gertrude Meinertzhagen. Donnelly won in 1908 but died the next year. Much of Waimārama was subdivided and sold into European ownership after this. The beach settlement developed from 1914.


In 2013 residents of the Waimārama district were more qualified, earned more and had a lower unemployment rate than the Hawke’s Bay averages.

Bare Island (Motu-o-Kura)

Small island off the coast of Waimārama, once part of the mainland. Bare Island was occupied by Māori, who built a pā on the summit and fished from its shores.

Ocean Beach

Small settlement and popular swimming beach between Cape Kidnappers and Waimārama. Much of the land at the southern end of Ocean Beach (also known as Waipuka) is owned by the Ngāti Mihiora hapū (subtribe). Access to the beach is via the hapū’s Pukepuke Tangiora Estate.

Other settlements

Small settlements and beach communities are dotted along the coast south of Cape Kidnappers. Pourerere was the location of the first sheep run (1849) in Hawke’s Bay and, along with Aramoana and Blackhead, was still farmed in the 2000s. Kairākau Beach and Mangakurī Beach are primarily holiday spots, though both have permanent residents. Inland farming settlements include Ōmakere and Elsthorpe.

Herbertville is the southernmost coastal settlement in the region. Nearby Cape Turnagain was so named by James Cook in 1769 because he ended his journey down the east coast there and turned back towards the north.

Te Angiangi Marine Reserve

Marine reserve established in 1997 between Blackhead and Aramoana beaches. The reserve covers 446 hectares and extends one nautical mile (1.85 kilometres) offshore from the high-water mark.


Coastal settlement with a 2013 population of 195. Pōrangahau and its river was an important site for Māori settlement. The first European runholders arrived in the early 1850s and the township was founded by the government in 1860. The settlement has a general store, historic church and cemetery, and the well-known Duke of Edinburgh hotel.

A nearby hill is christened with New Zealand’s longest place name – Taumata-whakatangihanga-kōauau-o-tamatea-turi-pūkaka-piki-maunga-horonuku-pōkai-whenua-ki-tānatahu, which means ‘the place where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, who slid, climbed and swallowed mountains, known as landeater, played his flute to his loved one’.

  1. Evening Post, 4 May 1889, p. 2. Back
How to cite this page:

Kerryn Pollock, 'Hawke’s Bay places - Southern coast', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 13 July 2024)

Story by Kerryn Pollock, published 13 Aug 2009, updated 30 Nov 2015