Happy Anniversary Hawke’s Bay
By Andrew Frame
You’ve seen a lot, haven’t you? You may remember when a young Lieutenant named James Cook sailed into your bay 240 years ago (on Monday 12th October to be precise) and named you after his boss, Edward Hawke, the First Lord of the Admiralty. It’s probably one of the reasons he became “Captain” Cook. That and discovering New Zealand, Australia and a few other bits and pieces.
You’ve seen the arrival of the Maori, Europeans and Aucklanders. You’ve done a bit of DIY geological landscaping with the odd shake-up. Your forests have turned into farmland, farmland into orchards and vineyards which, in turn, have been turned into sports parks. It’s been 133 years since you became a provincial district and you don’t look a day over 80.
You’ve been a home and an inspiration for me for the last 32 years, which is why it’s so hard for me to tell you that, well, I’ve been seeing another Bay.
It was only for one night, I swear and it meant nothing to me.
You see, Beloved’s sister moved to the Bay of Plenty a few months ago and Beloved started to miss her. As neither of us had been further northeast than Rotorua before, we decided to visit this “other bay.”
The drive, while very scenic, was posterior-numbingly long as we traveled non-stop. The mix of native bush and introduced conifer plantations provided some in-car entertainment due do my work in the forestry industry (“Look there’s a pine tree, and another one and another one…”). After just 30 seconds of playing “I spy something beginning with “P” and “T,” Beloved became intently interested in the CD collection we had brought along, so sadly we never got to my favorite game, “Spot the Pine Cone.” Three and a half non-radiata-related hours later we arrived in Tauranga.
There are many similarities between Tauranga and neighbouring Mount Maunganui compared to our very own Napier & Hastings. We both refer to ourselves as “The Bay”; both have roughly the same population (although we are slightly larger, they get a weather fly-by on the news and we don’t — Grrr!). You have to cross at least one bridge to get from one centre to the other in both cases, and the “BoP” even has some Art Deco style buildings, the thieving swine!
I’d have to say Tauranga feels more like Hastings. It has a larger CBD, which, while having a lot of traffic, does not feel overly busy. It has a railway running past the centre of town and is the site of the Hospital. The major difference is that Hastings is not mostly a narrow, ridge lined peninsula almost surrounded by water. The estuary that encircles Tauranga is very picturesque when the tide is in and, well, muddy when it’s not.
Mount Maunganui certainly has more Napier-like characteristics. It has the airport, the sea front (albeit covered in strange, fine, white-gold coloured particles the locals call “sand”), a large hill which people like to walk over, trendier bars and cafes than its neighbour … and they even named their beachfront road after ours – “Marine Parade.”
But they’re just not the same, Hawke’s Bay. They’re just not you.
Driving home I felt dirty, ashamed.
You know the weather I like and how I take my coffee. You have shop staff who will actually put down their magazine to notice or help me. Why was I such a fool to look elsewhere? It may call itself the “Bay of Plenty,” but you, Hawke’s Bay, are plenty enough Bay for me.
Please forgive me. I promise to make it up to you next anniversary.