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Our District

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Our District

Gisborne district is also a region, covers a land area of 8,265 square kilometres, located in the north-eastern corner of the North Island. This is approximately 5% of New Zealand’s total land area. 

The estimated population of our district is 48,016, which equates to 1% of New Zealand’s total population.

Gisborne has the lowest ratio of population to land area of all North Island regions. Three quarters of the population lives in Gisborne city, which had an estimated population of 37,200 in 2018.

Other settlements are small, with the largest population being in Ruatōria (860), Tolaga Bay (860), Te Karaka (550) and Tokomaru Bay (420).

Gisborne has the highest proportion of Māori of all regions, with 49% identifying as Māori in the 2013 census; compared to 15% nationally.

Around 6,240 Gisborne district residents reported being able to hold a conversation in te reo Māori (almost 16% of the district’s population – 4 times the national percentage).

Iwi of Te Tairāwhiti

From the southern boundary of the district, the iwi of Te Tairāwhiti are:

Ngāti Porou
Ngāi Tāmanuhiri 
Rongowhakaata
Te Aitanga-a-Māhaki

Ngāti Porou has the highest number of iwi affiliation among Gisborne Māori, with just over 12,000 people in the district identifying with that iwi.

Landscape and features

Titirangi (Kaiti Hill) overlooks the city and you can view Poverty Bay and the surrounding rural areas.

The white cliff headland of Young Nick's Head is visible from the city.  The Māori name for the cliffs is Te Kurī-ā-Paoa, meaning The Dog of Paoa.

Gisborne is also known as the city of rivers.  The Taruheru and Waimata Rivers join to form the 1200 metre Turanganui River - the shortest river in the country. 

Mount Hikurangi is the fifth highest mountain in the North Island, but the highest non-volcanic peak.  Hikurangi is the first mountain in the world to see the sun.

Tourism and industry

Our district is a popular holiday location. We have safe beaches and a warm sunny climate.
Freedom camping is available around our district. 

We also have 9 summer campgrounds operating during daylight savings months.
Summer camping

Local industry includes agriculture, horticulture, fishing, farming and forestry.  Wine production is also valuable to the local economy.

Our district's history

Welcome to the first city in the world to see the first sun light.  This wonderful gift was presented to us by Maui-Tikitiki-a-Taranga who fished up the Ika-a-Maui (North Island).  His waka (canoe) "Nukutaimemeha" is said to rest atop of Mount Hikurangi, the ancestral mountain of the Ngati Porou people.

Rawhiti (the east) was first inhabited by Māori who sailed in canoes from far away; the canoes were Horouta, Takitimu, Nukutere, Tereanini and others. The main tribes that are known today are, Ngati Porou, Aitanga-a-Hauiti, Ngai Tamanuhiri, Rongo Whakaata, Whanau a Kai and Te Aitanga-a-Mahaki.

Captain James Cook arrived here on 9 October 1769. He landed on Kaiti beach. No stores were traded so he named our region 'Poverty Bay'.

In the late 1880s there was confusion between the original name of our place - 'Turanga' and Tauranga and due to a clerical bungle, our name Turanga was debated in parliament and by our community.  William Gisborne, Colonial Secretary proposed that the city be named after him - to this day we are known as Gisborne city.

We boast many firsts in our 'Rawhiti' region 

Eastwoodhill Arboretum, has the largest collection of northern hemisphere trees planted in the southern hemisphere.

Tolaga Bay Wharf, at 660 metres, is the longest concrete wharf in the southern hemisphere.

The Turanganui River, at 1200 metres, is the shortest river in the country.

Hikurangi is the first mountain to greet the sun each day.

We have the largest pohutukakwa tree in the world at Te Araroa.

One of 2 airports in the world which has a railway line crossing the tarmac.

We are known as the chardonnay capital.

Gisborne Photo News

Check out Gisborne Photo News online(external link)
Photo News was a monthly magazine published between 1954 and 1975.  In that time residents of Gisborne, East Coast, Wairoa and Opotiki used to look forward to the latest issue hitting the bookshops.