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Tolaga Bay

Township 55 km north of Gisborne. The district was known to its original inhabitants as Ūawa. British explorer James Cook and the crew of the Endeavour took on board fresh water, cut wood, fish and kūmara (sweet potato) during their visit in October 1769. The township was established in 1875 on the Ūawa River. Shipping goods over the Ūawa River bar became increasingly difficult as vessels got larger and the river silted owing to forest clearance in the headwaters. The 660-metre-long Tolaga Bay wharf, started in 1926, was completed three years later. Metal for the structure was brought by barge from Napier. Supplies of fertiliser, petrol and beer were brought in via the wharf from boats servicing the coastal reaches. Outgoing from the wharf was maize, livestock, dairy products and wool. The wharf, which still stands, was closed to shipping in 1967. The wharf is said to be the longest in the southern hemisphere.
Meaning of place name
Cook named Ūawa Tolaga Bay, possibly misinterpreting a word (te raki) referring to a north wind blowing into the bay. In 1894 it was named Buckley, after Patrick Buckley, the then colonial secretary, but the name was rarely used.