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Our Discovery By Two Great Navigators

The Mercury Bay area can boast to being one of the few areas in New Zealand to have been discovered by two of the worlds great navigators, Polynesian explorer ‘Kupe” and  European explorer Captain James Cook.

The first Polynesian explorer to sight the Coromandel was reputed to be Kupe, traveling from eastern Polynesia in around 950 AD. Aboard his mighty double canoe, Matahorua, he sailed for over two weeks until he sighted what was later to be called Mt Moehau. Te Whitianga a Kupe was the original place name for Whitianga, meaning Kupe's crossing place. It is one of the few places in New Zealand to commemorate Kupe.

Kupe later left Whitianga to return to his homeland, however many of Kupe's tribe settled here. 400 years after Kupe’s visit to Whitianga was Te Arawa, captained by Tama te-Kapua with Hei as the tauira (spiritual leader). Hei and his people stayed and settled the area and the descendents of his Ngati Hei tribe remain here today.

Captain Cook sailed into the Mercury Bay on the 3rd November 1769. Cook’s ship “Endeavour” was met by Ngati Hei canoes on arrival in the bay and some testy encounters resulted in a Maori warrior being killed in a trading exchange with the crew of the Endeavour. It was 7 days later, on the 9th November 1769 that Cook observed the transit of the planet Mercury across the face of the sun, hence the names of some of the region's beaches and bays - Mercury Bay and Cook's Beach.

Location: Whitianga, The Coromandel. New Zealand

Contact:
Destination Coromandel
Phone: 07 868 0017
[email protected]

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