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Tauranga was proclaimed a borough in 1882 and officially became a city in 2004 when the population reached 100,000.

Maori Settlement

The name Tauranga means safe anchorage or resting place.  The long coastline provided a variety of habitats for kai moana, especially pipi, tuatua, paua, as well as kina and koura.  Along the coastal lowlands kumara grew well in the mild climate and there was plenty of aruhe.

The forests around Tauranga were a valuable source of food such as berries and bird life, as well as providing timber for buildings and canoes.  Because of its rich resources, the region has been continuously occupied by Maori tribes and periodically fought over, for more than seven centuries.

Maori originally voyaged from Eastern Polynesia to the region, and other parts of New Zealand, in the late 13th or early 14th centuries.  They named the region Te Moana a Toi (the sea of Toi). Toi, or Toitetuatahi, was an ancestral explorer, to whom Maori throughout the North Island are linked.

Three waka landed in the Bay of Plenty, the Te Arawa, Takitimu and Mataatua.  The western area of the region was settled by the iwi of Ngati Ranginui, Ngaiterangi and Ngati Pukenga from the waka Takitumu and Mataatua.  Te Arawa descendants from the waka Te Arawa inhabited much of the eastern area of the region and south to Rotorua.

For more information, see the Maori section of Tauranga City Libraries' Local History website.

Tauranga City Libraries Local History - Maori settlement

European Settlement

One of Tauranga’s first European visitors was Captain James Cook, who in November 1769, sailed past Mauao while following the planet Mercury.

James Farrow was the first permanent trader in the Bay of Plenty and came to Tauranga in 1829 to obtain flax fibre for Australian merchants.

The Church Missionary Society first visited Tauranga in 1826 on the vessel Herald.  By 1835 the society had established a mission station at Te Papa, and a permanent mission presence was established in 1847, when the Te Papa Mission House (known today as The Elms) was completed.

For more information,  see the European Settlement section of the Tauranga City Libraries' Local History website.

Tauranga City Libraries' Local History - European settlement

Last Reviewed: 06/03/2017