Captain Cook visited in 1769 and the first European settler came to Whangarei in 1839, but long before that Maori occupied the land and called it their home, a number of fortressed Pa sites, shell middens and Kumara storage pits as well as many surviving legends pay witness to this. Still at least every fourth person in Whangarei is of Maori descent.
The pioneers from Scotland, England, Ireland, Dalmatia etc. soon turned Whangarei into the commercial centre of Northland and its development held a resemblance to the wild west, with industries like logging, coal, stone and gold mining, fishing and farming all resources were soon being efficiently harvested. Beautiful old Kauri villas, churches and public buildings can still give a feeling of these beginnings.
Today New Zealand’s only oil refinery, Portland Cement and many important ship building companies contribute to an accelerated economic growth in the area.
More information about New Zealand culture and New Zealand Maori. Also check out the Maori language course for travellers.