Historic Golden Bay
Today, the iwi of Golden Bay are Manawhenua ki Mohua – Ngati Tama, Ngati Rarua and Te Atiawa. In earlier times this area witnessed waves of Maori invasion and settlement long before the arrival of European immigrants. Ngati Tumata Kokiri were thought to have been here for several hundred years before being displaced by Ngati Apa. In 1828 the migration of North Island iwi to the South Island took place. The Taranaki wars of the 1860s and 1880s and Parihaka resistance caused a significant exodus of Maori from the Bay, but some manawhenua chose to remain. In 1992 Onetahua Kokiri Marae was formally established in the old school at the top of the Pohara Valley.
When Dutch explorer Abel Tasman sailed into New Zealand waters and came upon this ”large and highly elevated land”, he was looking for a great southern continent. For centuries many had imagined such a land mass in the southern ocean between Australia and South America. The voyage was organised by the Dutch East India Company, looking for opportunities to expand its wealth.
On 13 December 1642, Tasman and his crew on the Heemskerck and Zeehaen made the first recorded sighting of New Zealand as they sailed towards the West Coast of the South Island. Putting New Zealand on the world map had begun!
A few days later they rounded Farewell Spit and anchored on 18 December in what is now Golden Bay, making the first known contact with Maori. Confusion and misunderstanding led to confrontation, and there was loss of life on both sides. So Tasman quickly sailed away, then sat out a storm in the lee of Rangitoto/D’Urville island, before sailing up the west coast of the North Island. After another sighting of Maori, on the Three Kings Islands, they left New Zealand waters on 6 January 1643.
Tasman’s voyage is a landmark milestone in New Zealand history. There is no earlier written record; no earlier known meeting. Words and images capture the two worlds at a moment in time, marking the start of New Zealand’s shared history.
In 1840 The New Zealand Company arrived at Whakatu and renamed it Nelson. Golden Bay was considered too remote for Europeans but permanent settlement began in 1854-55 with pioneers disembarking at Waitapu and Collingwood. The discovery of gold and industrial enterprise in coal, timber, flax and dairy products fueled the development of Golden Bay. Today the primary industry remains dairy farming.
Fred Tyree, and his brother William, were professional photographers who recorded the colonial development of the Nelson region for ﬁfty years from 1878. Fred Tyree lived in Golden Bay and his photographs are featured at Aorere Centre, Collingwood. The Tyree Studio glass plate negatives are of national signiﬁcance and are held at the National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mataurangao Aotearoa and the Nelson Provincial Museum Pupuri Taonga Te Tai Ao.