Hastings, Warren

Hastings, Warren

Hastings, Warren, 1732-1818, first governor-general of British India. Employed (1750) as a clerk by the East India Company, he soon became manager of a trading post in Bengal. When Calcutta (now Kolkata) was captured (1756) by Siraj-ud-Daula, Hastings was taken prisoner but soon released. After the British recapture (1757) of the city, he was made British resident at Murshidabad. Good service there brought appointment to the Calcutta council (1761), but he returned to England (1764) disgusted with administrative corruption in Bengal.

Hastings went back (1769) to India as a member of the Madras council and became (1772) governor of Bengal, immediately embarking on a course of judicial and financial reform, law codification, and the suppression of banditry, measures that laid the foundation of direct British rule in India. In 1774, he was appointed governor-general of India. This position was created by Lord North's Regulating Act (1773), which also set up a four-member governing council. In the succeeding years Hastings was greatly hampered by opposition in the council, especially from Sir Philip Francis. Another problem he encountered in his new position was the ill-defined relationship with and resulting lack of control over the subordinate provincial governors. The interference of the Bombay government in Maratha affairs led to a war with the Marathas, while the blunders of the Madras government provoked conflict with Haidar Ali of Mysore. In both cases Hastings, conscious of the danger of French intervention, dispatched armies from Bengal that saved the British position. Nonetheless he was criticized for interference with the provincial governments.

Hastings resigned (1784) and returned to England, where he was charged with high crimes and misdemeanors by Edmund Burke and Sir Philip Francis, whom he had wounded in a duel in India. The chief charges against him concerned his extortion of money from the rajah of Benares and the begum of Oudh, his hiring out of British troops to the nawab of Oudh to subdue the Rohillas (a warlike Afghan tribe), and his alleged responsibility for the judicial murder of an Indian merchant, Nandkumar. He was impeached in 1787; but the trial, begun in 1788, ended with acquittal in 1795, despite the bitter prosecution of Burke, Francis, Richard B. Sheridan, and Charles James Fox. Hastings's fortune was spent in the defense, but the East India Company contributed to his later support. He became popular and was made a privy councilor (1814).

See biographies by A. M. Davies (1935), K. G. Feiling (1955, repr. 1967), and J. Bernstein (2000); studies by P. Moon (1947, repr. 1962) and P. J. Marshall (1965).

Hastings is the administrative centre of the Hastings District in the Hawke's Bay Region of the North Island of New Zealand. Hastings is located inland from the City of Napier.

Less than twenty kilometres separate the centres of Hastings City and Napier, and as such the two are often called "The Twin Cities" or "The Bay Cities". The population of the urban area of Napier-Hastings is 119,600. This makes the area's population comparable to that of Dunedin on the South Island.

In local government terms, however, the two are considerably different. While Napier has a City Council, Hastings City's council lost its city status in 1989 when it was amalgamated with Havelock North, Waimarama and Clive, a set of other villages and a rural hinterland to form the Hastings District. This has given Hastings much the larger population of the two centres, with a 2001 population of 73,428.

The Hastings District is made up of three main centres: Hastings city, Flaxmere and Havelock North. These main centres are surrounded by thirty-eight rural settlements including Clive and Bridge Pā. Hastings District covers an area of 5,229 square kilometres (2,018 square miles) and has 1.8% of the population of New Zealand, ranking it fourteenth in size out of the seventy-four territorial authorities.

Since the merger of the surrounding and satellite settlements, Hastings has grown to become the largest urban area in Hawke's Bay. Now the region's main centre of commerce, industry and trade, as shown by the ever-expanding skyline of multi-storey office buildings in its centre, Hastings has grown rapidly with the help of the smart and tidy gridiron city planning system, crisscrossed by the railway line running northeast-southwest and the main east-west artery, Heretaunga Street, which also links the city with its suburban centres of Havelock North and Flaxmere.

Many Hastings residents work in the city, and the area is populated by middle-to-upper income families in some suburbs and areas, and then middle-to-lower income families in other areas, especially towards Camberley and Flaxmere.


The Māori owners leased approximately seventy square kilometres on the Heretaunga Plains to Thomas Tanner in 1867; Tanner had been trying to purchase the land since 1864. In 1870, twelve people, known as the "12 apostles", formed a syndicate to purchase the land for around £1 10s an acre (£371 per km²).

Many local people firmly believe that Hastings was originally named Hicksville, after Francis Hicks, who bought a block of land, which now contains the centre of Hastings, from Thomas Tanner. However, this story is apocryphal. The original name of the location which was to become the town centre was Karamu. In 1871, the New Zealand Government decided to route the new railway south of Napier through a notional Karamu junction in the centre of the Heretaunga Plains. This location was on Francis Hicks's land. The decision on the railway route was based largely on two reports by Charles Weber, the provincial engineer and surveyor in charge of the railway. Karamu junction was re-named Hastings in 1873. (On 7 June 1873, the Hawke's Bay Herald reported: "The name of the new town is to be Hastings. We hear it now for the first time.") Exactly who chose the name has been disputed, although Thomas Tanner claimed that it was him (see Hawke's Bay Herald report 1 February 1884) and that the choice was inspired by his reading the trial of Warren Hastings. In any event, the name fitted well with other place names in the district (Napier, Havelock and Clive), which were also named after prominent figures in the history of British India. {Boyd, M.B. (1984) City of the Plains - A History of Hastings, Victoria University Press for the Hastings City Council, pp.16-21}

The first train took the twelve-mile (19 km) trip from Napier to Hastings in 1874.

A big jump in the local economy occurred when Edward Newbigin opened a brewery in 1881. By the next year, there were 195 freeholders of land in the town.

Vineyards and fruit growing were the first industries for Hastings. With around six hundred people, the town was incorporated as a borough on 20 October 1886.

In 1918, nearly 300 people died of a flu epidemic that swept Hawke's Bay.

Electricity came to Hastings in 1919.

Ninety-three people were killed in Hastings by the Hawke's Bay earthquake of 3 February 1931, which destroyed or damaged almost every building in the town.

During World War II, Allied troops were billeted at the Army, Navy and Air Force (ANA) Club, and in private homes. One hundred and fifty members belonging to sixteen different local clubs packed supplies to be sent to allied soldiers.

In 1954, Hastings was the first city in New Zealand to introduce fluoridation of its water supply. The intention was to compare the effect on tooth decay with that in the unfluoridated city of Napier over a ten year period. The study was criticised for its methodology and results, and remains controversial.

The city was hit by an earthquake measuring 5.9 on the richter scale at 11.25pm on August 25, 2008. The earthquake caused minor damage to shops, where stock was shaken off shelves. Minor power outages were also reported.


Situated on the fertile alluvial Heretaunga Plains, Hastings is rather flat with no natural landmarks aside from the few rivers and streams which wind through the outer suburbs. The local area is very productive, with orchards, farms and vineyards. Commonly referred to as the 'Fruit Bowl of New Zealand', the main industries are largely agricultural, with food processing plants and canneries being major local employers. Honey is also a well-known local product. A common New Zealand brand, 'Wattie's' (part of the Heinz-Watties group), is known for its ''Wattie's Tomato Sauce'.

Hastings has a Mediterranean climate, with over 2200 sunshine hours annually and an average rainfall of less than 800 mm (31.5 in). It is one of the country's warmest annually and the hottest place in summer with New Zealand's highest January maximum average of 26 °C (79 °F): Alexandra has 23.5°C (74°F) and Christchurch 22.5°C (73°F). Because of its location 15 km (9 miles) inland, the sea breeze does not tend to have the same effect on Hastings' climate as it does on Napier. It is not uncommon for the temperature to be over 30°C (86°F) on summer days. Hastings received an official weather station only in 2003, so high temperature readings prior to that are disputed. Some unofficial estimates show that it may have reached the national record of 42.4°C (108.3°F) during the 1973 heatwave. In winter, maximum highs of 17°C (59°F) are frequent, and occasionally the temperature will exceed 20°C (68°F) with northwest winds. Hastings' Mediterranean climate brings dry weather which means humidity is low for farmers but often causes droughts in summer. Thunderstorms are occasional in Hastings, but usually bring heavy rain and hail, sometimes large, which is damaging to nearby orchards.


Hastings is quite historic and is very welcoming of tourists, but due to its perceived lack of landmarks and its close proximity to the more picturesque Napier, with which it shares its Art Deco architectural theme, it is not the region's major tourist destination. However, to beat the heat, Hastings does have Hawke's Bay's largest amusement park, a water park called 'Splash Planet', which replaced 'Fantasyland' near the turn of the millennium. This is a massive attraction in Hastings and draws many people.

Hastings suffered similar to Napier in the 1931 Hawke's Bay earthquake. However, because of the lesser damage by fire and more intact buildings, Hastings was able to regenerate faster, with many new businesses started here rather than in Napier. Both towns gained a legacy from the disaster by rebuilding in the then-fashionable and highly distinctive Art Deco style, similar to that of Miami, FL, USA. Sadly, as commerce has improved in Hastings of late, resulting in the skyrocketing of land prices, many of these historic buildings are being demolished and replaced with modern, multi-storey office buildings.

Scheduled airline services to Hawkes Bay operate through Napier Airport, though Hastings Aerodrome for private planes is nearby.


By the end of the twentieth century, Hastings was declining, suffering economic downturn with industries and businesses closing or moving elsewhere. This decline had led to a poor image of Hastings by non-residents, choosing Napier for its beaches, hills, palm trees and waterways. However, after multi-million dollar regeneration projects and the employment of artists, Hastings has seen a change in its aesthetics, as well as in people's perspectives. By reminding people that Hastings has custody over the rapidly-growing Havelock North, it has had a slice of the growth, seeing businesses returning, and once abandoned shops being replaced with new bars, cafés, restaurants and shops. Along with the regeneration of the retail district, heightened commercial activity has led to the building of multi-storey office blocks in the centre, marking Hastings as one of New Zealand's major commercial centres. With its renewed confidence, Hastings District Council has been exploiting the boom, promoting tourism around its thriving and accessible shopping district, and commissioning new works of art, sculptures and public buildings, including the new Hawke's Bay opera house.

A controversial idea by the council is to relocate the Nelson Park sports ground to a new facility east of Frimley to make way for a large megacenter, akin to large cookie-cutter American stores. The large-format retail zone will house larger stores such as The Warehouse and speciality stores (like Spotlight, Dick Smith Electronics, and Noel Leeming)

Sister cities

The Hastings relationship with the Chinese city Guilin started in 1977, after a research scientist, Dr Stuart Falconer identified a number of common areas of interest between the two cities, including horticulture and their rural-urban mix.

Notable Former/Current Residents of Metro Hastings


See also



  • Moss, Maryan. 1999. Historic Outline of the Hastings District.
  • Boyd, Mary Beatrice. 1984. City of the Plains - A History of Hastings, Victoria Universtity Press for the Hastings City Council

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