Last week we celebrated the arrival of the waka hourua of Kupe
Matawhaorua about 1100 years ago and HMB Endeavour in 1769
of then Lieutenant James Cook.
Kupe’s wife Hine Te Aparangi,
according to Ngāti Hei, named the islands Aotearoa
which refers to the Māori name for Great Barrier Island,
Aotea, with the main landmass of the Coromandel
marked by its high peaks observed by her as the longer,
‘roa’ of Aotearoa. When they landed, Kupe named the first landing
or crossing, Te Whitianga a Kupe.1
When Cook arrived
for twelve days in November 1769, he named
Te Whanganui o Hei Mercury Bay. They were there
to see the Transit of Mercury on November 9
so that the astronomer Charles Green could work out
the longitude of Terra Australis Incognito.
The crew gave other names such as the Aldermen Islands
for their high rock needles like a court.
- Steele, John and Richard Gates. When Toawaka Met Cook. Stories of Whanganui o Hei – Mercury Bay.
Whitianga: Mercury Bay Trust, 2019. ↩
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