Poverty Bay

Poverty Bay

Poverty Bay is the largest of several small bays on the east coast of New Zealand's North Island to the north of Hawke Bay. It stretches for 10 kilometres from Young Nick's Head in the southwest to Tuahine Point in the northeast. The city of Gisborne is located on the northern shore of the bay. The name is often used by extension to refer to the entire area surrounding the city of Gisborne.

The first European known to have set foot in New Zealand, Captain James Cook, did so here on October 7 1769. This first meeting led to the deaths of 6 local Maori during skirmishes with the crew, due to a misinterpretation of the traditional Maori challenge. Cook was unable to gain many of the provisions he and his crew needed at the bay, and for this reason gave it its name.

Poverty Bay is one of the more fertile areas of New Zealand and famous for its Chardonnay, fruit, vegetables and avocados, with abundant sunshine and fertile alluvial soil.

Catchment and sediment supply

The bay is fed by the Waipaoa river, whose catchment is 2205 km² - large enough for individual storms and events to have a small impact on the sedimentary outflow. The river's alluvial buffering is also minimal, and 95% of sediments are trapped by subduction-related anticlines on the bay's seaward flank. This has led to Poverty Bay becoming a case area for sedimentary studies. The sediments of the bay provide records of changes brought about by the onset of the ENSO, colonisation of NZ by Polynesians (and associated deforestation), subsequent deforestation by westerners, and the Taupo eruption.

Poverty Bay Massacre

In 1868 Te Kooti, a Maori 'rebel' leader, landed at Whareongaonga Bay, near Young Nick's Head in Poverty Bay, with 300 odd mostly Hauhau warriors with women and children, in the schooner "Rifleman". Having overcome the crew without bloodshed and made an escape from the Chatham Islands where he and these Hauhau Maori had been incarcerated without trial. From there he ventured inland to wage guerilla war on the armed constabulary and sympathetic Maori for several years, as well as several raids on settlers and antipathetic Maori villages. On November 10, 1868 Te Kooti and his followers attacked the township of Matawhero on the outskirts of Gisborne. Some 54 people were slaughtered, including women and children. The dead included 22 local Māori as well as European settlers.


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