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  • Keith Newman

This is our story…a story of beginnings for Hawke’s Bay

About 900-years ago; before the Takitimu waka arrived with its crew of high priests and experts, Whatonga and his wife Hotuwaipara, the first residents of Hawke’s Bay, were living along the Cape Coast.

Whatonga’s first house Heretaunga; a name now adopted by the region, was located at Haumoana or Te Awanga. The decendants of Whatonga’s son Tara, intermarried with Kahungunu from the 1600s.

In the hills above Te Awanga are the archaeological remains one of the oldest continually inhabited Maori villages in the country.

Captain James Cook’s unfortunate first encounter with Te Awanga Maori in 1779, resulted in an attempted kidnap and the loss of Maori lives, giving rise to the name Cape Kidnappers. Off the Cape Coast, Cook named Hawke’s Bay.

In 1839 Barney Rhodes laid claim to much of Hawke’s Bay. After the Treaty of Waitangi was signed months later at the Tukituki river mouth, he was left with 4500 acres from the Cape Coast inland.

Around 1851 his brother Joseph who managed the vast Clive Grange Estate, built the first significant house in Hawke’s Bay and ultimately acquired all of Cape Kidnappers.

For a time; well about two months, Clive Grange was imagined as “the most flourishing port and city on the East Coast”. The financial crash and Napier won out.

Map of Clive Grange, Hawke's Bay

When the first Black Bridge opened in 1888 the three major sheep stations were soon divided up. Clive Grange Beach and the Te Awanga lagoon were so popular, Hastings principals complained their classes looked empty for weeks after the school holidays.

A 200-acre tobacco crop flourished until mildew got into the leaves; and in 1903 Government viticulturalist Romeo Bragato identified Clive Grange as perfect for winegrowing but the prohibitionists had other ideas.

Anthony Vidal kickstarted winegrowing a decade later and 100-years on the Cape Coast is a major winegrowing, horticultural, cropping, lifestyle, hospitality and tourism area.

Clifton beach is the only place where floating trailers guide leisure craft in and out of the water; the British car museum, farm zoo, adventure park, surfing, gannet watching and award winning restaurants all add character and colour.

The Arts & Heritage Trail will enable locals, along with regional and international visitors, to share in these stories, gaining a sense of place and awareness about why the Cape Coast, gives Hawke’s Bay an edge.

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