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Hawke's Bay Region facts for kids

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Hawke's Bay
Location of Hawke's Bay
Country New Zealand
Seat Napier
 • Type Regional council
 • Body Hawke's Bay Regional Council
 • Land 14,139.15 km2 (5,459.16 sq mi)
 (June 2020)
 • Total 178,600

Hawke's Bay Region (Māori: Te Matau-a-Māui) is a local government region of New Zealand on the east coast of the North Island. The region's name derives from Hawke Bay, which was named by Captain James Cook in honour of Admiral Edward Hawke. The region is governed by Hawke's Bay Regional Council.


Hawke's Bay region view
Part of the Hawke's Bay landscape

The region is situated on the east coast of the North Island. It bears the former name of what is now Hawke Bay, a large semi-circular bay that extends for 100 kilometres from northeast to southwest from Mahia Peninsula to Cape Kidnappers.

The Hawke's Bay region includes the hilly coastal land around the northern and central bay, the floodplains of the Wairoa River in the north, the wide fertile Heretaunga Plains around Hastings in the south, and a hilly interior stretching up into the Kaweka and Ruahine Ranges.

Five major rivers flow down into the coast of Hawke's Bay. From north to south, they are the Wairoa River, Mohaka River, Tutaekuri River, Ngaruroro River and Tukituki River respectively. Lake Waikaremoana is situated in northern Hawke's Bay roughly 35 km from the coast. It is the largest lake in Hawke's Bay, 4th largest in the North Island and 16th largest in New Zealand.

The region consists of Wairoa District, Hastings District, Napier City, and its southernmost district, Central Hawke's Bay District, as well as the town of Taharua in Taupo District and the town of Ngamatea in Rangitikei District. It does not include Southern Hawke's Bay, whose constituent districts, the Dannevirke and Woodville counties, came under the Tararua District Council and the Manawatu-Wanganui Regional Council (also known as Horizons Regional Council) in the 1989 local government reforms.

In June 2015, the Local Government Commission proposed the amalgamation of the four local councils with the Hawke's Bay Regional Council. This proposal was rejected by the affected communities.

The region has a hill with the longest place name in New Zealand, and the longest in the world according to the 2009 Guinness Book of Records. Taumata­whakatangihanga­koauau­o­tamatea­turi­pukakapiki­maunga­horo­nuku­pokai­whenua­kitanatahu is an otherwise unremarkable hill in southern Hawke's Bay, not far from Waipukurau.


Hawke's Bay Region covers 14,139.15 km2 (5,459.16 sq mi) and had an estimated population of 178,600 as of June 2020, 3.5 percent of New Zealand's population, with a population density of 13 people per km2. Around 74 percent of the region's population lives in the Napier-Hastings conurbation.

Historical population
Year Pop. ±% p.a.
1991 138,342 —    
1996 142,791 +0.64%
2001 142,950 +0.02%
2006 147,783 +0.67%
2013 151,179 +0.33%
2018 166,368 +1.93%
A map showing population density in the Central Hawke's Bay Region at the 2006 census

Hawke's Bay Region had a population of 166,368 at the 2018 New Zealand census, an increase of 15,189 people (10.0%) since the 2013 census, and an increase of 18,585 people (12.6%) since the 2006 census. There were 60,237 households. There were 81,054 males and 85,314 females, giving a sex ratio of 0.95 males per female. The median age was 40.6 years (compared with 37.4 years nationally), with 34,935 people (21.0%) aged under 15 years, 29,202 (17.6%) aged 15 to 29, 71,841 (43.2%) aged 30 to 64, and 30,390 (18.3%) aged 65 or older.

Of those at least 15 years old, 21,417 (16.3%) people had a bachelor or higher degree, and 27,633 (21.0%) people had no formal qualifications. The median income was $28,300, compared with $31,800 nationally. 16,485 people (12.5%) earned over $70,000 compared to 17.2% nationally. The employment status of those at least 15 was that 63,999 (48.7%) people were employed full-time, 19,605 (14.9%) were part-time, and 4,710 (3.6%) were unemployed.

Below is a list of urban areas that contain more than 1,000 population.

Urban area Population
(June 2020)
 % of region
Napier 66,300 37.1%
Hastings 49,000 27.4%
Havelock North 14,900 8.3%
Wairoa 4,870 2.7%
Waipukurau 4,610 2.6%
Clive 2,360 1.3%
Waipawa 2,250 1.3%

Other towns and settlements in Hawke's Bay include:

  • Tuai
  • Frasertown
  • Nūhaka
  • Mahia Beach
  • Whirinaki
  • Whakatu
  • Haumoana
  • Te Awanga
  • Waimārama
  • Tikokino
  • Ongaonga
  • Takapau
  • Ōtāne
  • Porangahau

Culture and identity

Largest groups of overseas-born residents
Nationality Population (2018)
England 6,840
Australia 2,625
India 2,076
Samoa 1,665
South Africa 1,473
Philippines 942
Scotland 876
China 765
Netherlands 738
United States 657

Ethnicities in the 2018 census were 75.0% European/Pākehā, 27.0% Māori, 5.6% Pacific peoples, 5.0% Asian, and 1.7% other ethnicities. People may identify with more than one ethnicity.

The percentage of people born overseas was 15.9, compared with 27.1% nationally.

Although some people objected to giving their religion, 48.5% had no religion, 37.4% were Christian, 0.7% were Hindu, 0.4% were Muslim, 0.6% were Buddhist and 5.5% had other religions.

The major local Māori tribe is Ngāti Kahungunu.


Maraetotara Falls, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
Maraetotara Falls

Hawke's Bay Province was founded in 1858 as a province of New Zealand, after being separated from the Wellington Province following a meeting in Napier in February 1858. The Province was abolished in 1876 along with all other provinces in New Zealand. It was replaced with a Provincial District.

On February 3, 1931, Napier and Hastings were devastated by New Zealand's worst natural disaster, an earthquake measuring 7.9 on the Richter magnitude scale, which killed 256 people. Napier rebuilt and now the city is world-famous for its Art Deco buildings, and celebrates its heritage each February with the Art Deco Weekend. MTG Hawke's Bay, formerly Hawke's Bay Museum and Art Gallery, has an exhibition on the earthquake, its causes and impact.


Hawke's Bay is one of the most seismically active regions in New Zealand and has experienced many large and often damaging earthquakes. More than 50 damaging earthquakes have rocked the region since the 1800s. Some of the more notable are listed below.


Hawke's Bay winery
Inside a Hawke's Bay winery

The region is served by a variety of radio stations including Radio Kahungunu, Classic Hits 89.5, More FM, access station Radio Kidnappers and local station Bay FM. As well, most of the national commercial and non-commercial operators have transmitters covering the region. Hawke's Bay also has its own TV station, TVHB, which provides a mix of news and information programmes hosted by local personalities.

Hawke's Bay produces some of New Zealand's finest wines and once a year Harvest Hawke's Bay celebrates the fact by offering a three-day wine and food festival. This event attracts many thousands.

Napier is home to the Mission Concert held early each year since 1993. The event, held at the Mission Estate Winery in Taradale, has attracted performers such as Kenny Rogers, Shirley Bassey, Rod Stewart, The B-52's, Belinda Carlisle, Ray Charles, and Eric Clapton. The 2009 concert attraction was to be Lionel Richie, but the concert was cancelled because of rain.


The subnational gross domestic product (GDP) of Hawke's Bay was estimated at NZ$8.67 billion in the year to March 2019, 2.9% of New Zealand's national GDP. The regional GDP per capita was estimated at $50,251 in the same period. In the year to March 2018, primary industries contributed $1.14 billion (13.9%) to the regional GDP, goods-producing industries contributed $1.84 billion (22.3%), service industries contributed $4.56 billion (55.3%), and taxes and duties contributed $707 million (8.6%).


The region is renowned for its horticulture, with large orchards and vineyards on the plains. In the hilly parts of the region sheep and cattle farming predominates, with forestry blocks in the roughest areas.

Hawke's Bay has 17,886 ha (44,200 acres) of horticultural land, the third largest area in New Zealand behind Canterbury and Marlborough. The largest crops by land area are apples (4,750 ha), wine grapes (3,620 ha), squash (3,390 ha), and peas and beans (1,360 ha).


HB Vineyard autumn
A Hawke's Bay vineyard in autumn

The climate is dry and temperate, and the long, hot summers and cool winters offer excellent weather for growing grapes. Missionaries in the mid 19th century planted the first vines in Hawke's Bay and it is now an important place for full bodied red wines. The wine region is the second largest after the Marlborough wine region, with 4,681 hectares (11,570 acres) of vineyards and 91 operating wineries in 2018.


Hawke's Bay is home to Rocket Lab's Launch Complex 1, New Zealand's first orbital launch site, on Māhia Peninsula. Wairoa District is home to Space Coast New Zealand, a stretch of coastline from which space launches can be viewed. Rocket Lab launches its Electron rockets several times a year, after its first successful launch of Humanity Star in January 2018.


The Hawke's Bay Rugby Union's representative team, the Magpies, plays in New Zealand's annual professional domestic rugby union competition, the Mitre 10 Cup. The team represents the Hawke's Bay Region in provincial representative rugby, and draws its players from the constituent clubs who are affiliated to the provincial union. The team play their home matches in McLean Park in Napier. Players representing Hawke's Bay are also eligible to play for the Hurricanes in the annual transnational Super Rugby competition. Hawke's Bay has produced a number of All Blacks.

The Hawke's Bay Hawks compete in the New Zealand National Basketball League.

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