Hawke’s Bay is a region of diverse and magnificent landscapes, from mountains and hill country to inland and coastal plains, occupying around 14,000 square kilometres on the eastern side of New Zealand’s North Island.
From Mahia in the north to Porangahau in the south, Hawke’s Bay’s 360 kilometres of coastline and beaches border the Pacific Ocean, whose prolific sea life supports a thriving commercial industry and an addicted following of recreational fishermen.
Blessed with fertile soils, an ideal contour, and a warm temperate climate, Hawke’s Bay’s prosperity is founded on its land-based economy. With its thousands of acres of farms, orchards, and vineyards, along with the local industries that have grown up in support, there is good reason why the region is held in such high regard as New Zealand’s food and wine producing powerhouse, and why life here beats to a seasonal drum.
The forces of nature that have gifted Hawke’s Bay with its most notable landmarks, including Lake Waikaremoana, Te Mata Peak, and Cape Kidnappers, have also wreaked havoc on the local population to reshape and define the region we know today. Most infamous is the Hawke’s Bay Earthquake of 1931, an event that changed the cityscapes of Napier and Hastings and the lives of their inhabitants, forever.
A mythological explanation for the formation of Hawke’s Bay’s geography can be found in the story of Maui, the most famous of the M ori gods, who hauled up the North Island while out fishing one day with his brothers. Annoyed by the favouritism shown to Maui by the other gods, the brothers tried to sabotage his fishing efforts by refusing him a fishhook or some bait. But the resourceful Maui produced his own hook, made from the jawbone of his grandmother, and in what might be considered an alarming act of self harm in earthly circles today, he
punched himself in the nose, coated his hook with the blood that flowed, and cast it into the depths where it was soon taken by something very large. After heaving the North Island to the surface, Maui’s hook was instantly transformed into the cape that forms the southernmost tip of Hawke Bay – otherwise known as Cape Kidnappers. Viewed from above, you can still see its hooked shape, which is why Hawke’s Bay is sometimes referred to as ‘Te Matau a Maui’ – The Fishhook of Maui.
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