Tolaga Bay aka Uawa

How did Tolaga Bay get its name? it certainly isn’t a Maori name as there is no ‘L’ used in Maori language, so we set about asking the locals how the name came about.  However, it wasn’t until we called in to Tolaga Bay Cashmere that we found someone who had some idea about its name.  She tells us that Captain Cook had a Tahitian on board with him and on hearing the name that the local Maori were using for the bay, mishearing and mistranslation led it to be named Tolaga Bay.  On further investigation, we discovered similar explanations, all with slight variations, so we assume that the made up name stuck. Uawa is the local name for the area.  

The Gisborne Council has a freedom camping scheme which runs from October through to early April whereby you can buy a freedom camping pass which allows you to park up along some stunning pieces of real estate, usually beach front, all along the East Cape.  We are now parked up in Tolaga Bay, on the beach front reserve, and very comfortable it is too. 

cosy cornerComfortably parked.

The beach is long and sandy, but peppered with mountains of driftwood.

north endsouth end

Looking North                                  Looking South

At the southern end of the beach is the Tolaga Bay wharf, it is the longest wharf in NZ at 660metres in length.  Since the early 1960’s when commercial use of the wharf ceased, the wharf fell  into serious disrepair. In the late 1990’s, advice of “experts” was sought where it was determined that it was beyond repair, however, this did not deter local people and they set about to fundraise to keep their iconic wharf.  Over $5.5 million dollars later, the wharf is nearing completion of it’s upgrade, all the more impressive as Tolaga Bay has a population of only 800+ residents. 

wharf 9 entrance

start of the wharf                           entrance way

wharf fixInterpretive board showing how the piles were encased in a round form which covered them from the underneath of the roadway to below low tide.  This was because of the destruction of the existing concrete and reinforcing by rust and consequent concrete splitting.  The damage was removed, stainless steel reinforcing added within the new round form and new concrete encasing the whole pile.

wharf 8wharf 7

from the start                             and near the end, blocked off

wharf 5end of the wharf, under repair showing the scaffold that was used attached to each side of the wharf to give workers access to the structure under the roadway.

You can see along the roadway of the wharf the remnants of fresh concrete which was poured around the existing piles to strengthen them.  New and repaired concrete handrails have also been constructed.

wharf 2wharf 6

repiling evidence                            new handrail

wharfnew and old handrails

hole in the rock hole 

Hole in the rock off Tolaga Bay      Cave in the cliffs

We have taken the opportunity to go exploring whilst safely parked.  First we headed just a bit south of here to Waihau Bay (Loisel’s Beach) to see lf we should have perhaps made the call to stay here.  The vertigo suffering member of the party was very relieved to arrive at the beach safely and was very pleased we had decided not to drive the van down this very narrow, twisty and precipice edged road!  However, the beach was very pretty.

waihau 2Waihau Beach

Looking south                             looking north

We also took a quick drive up to Anaura Bay as we had been told that there was a DOC camp there.  We did indeed find a beautiful beach, complete with DOC camp at the north end of the beach and a commercial campground at the south end of the beach.  However, the photographer forgot to take any pictures so you will have to take our word that the beach was rather stunning.

Over the past week the weather has taken a dramatic change,  last Monday we were having trouble sleeping as it was so hot (down to 25C in the wee small hours), but by Tuesday, it was into full autumnal mode with overnight temperatures dropping to around 12C, a bit of a shock to the system and we are now hurriedly looking to find warmer clothing!  I guess that is the end of what has been a stunning summer, and we look forward to mild but clear autumn days.


2 Responses to “Tolaga Bay aka Uawa”

  1. Stuartinnz Says:

    Kia ora, cousins. There was / is an l sound in Maori – Colac (= Korako) Bay in Foveaux Strait is one of the other survivors. Many Pakeha wrote l for r when they first heard it. It was once written Maori came to be standardised that the l disappeared, but many Maori ‘r’s have quite an ‘l’ to the way they are pronounced. Indeed, Maori itself is an example. The often racist ‘flied lice’ spoof of pidgin Chinese is another way of showing how close l and r can be in sound.

    Stuart Park

  2. Bernice Vannini Says:

    Thanx Stuart, we knew someone knowledgable would be able to put us right. I also found this explanation “evidently as a result of some misinterpretation of the wind blowing in the bay which was the teraki”. So replace the r with an l, throw in some bad hearing, accents, etc and you get Tolaga!

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