History of Whangarei Heads


The first white settlers in the Whangarei Heads area gave their names to some of the bays: McLeod, McGregor and Urquhart for example.

They were part of the Waipu Scots group who left Scotland in the 1820s, settled in Nova Scotia for 30 years before eventually settling in Waipu, which is just across the water, and Whangarei Heads.

For a sea-faring group, this distance was insignificant and people travelled back and forth to Waipu regularly by boats they made themselves. You can see a memorial to these settlers, some old properties dating from that time, an old cemetery and an historic church at McLeod Bay.

The Waipu Museum is a great place to visit to discover the story of the Nova Scotia Scots and their travels.



There was little Maori settlement in the area when the Scots arrived, maybe because of a massacre on the slopes of Manaia. However with a pa site on Busby Head and numerous middens there is evidence of a large population in the past.

The area is in the Ngati-wai Tribal area. There are many legends of Manaia and most of them have aspects of infidelity, but this is my favourite. Manaia came home from fishing one day, maybe using his causeway (in Taurikura Bay near the Ody Road corner). He found that his slave who was supposed to be mending the fishing nets had been enjoying the company of his wife. Manaia, in a rage, threw the slave and the fishing net down the front of the mountain and he, his wife and 3 children were turned into the prominent rocks on the top of the mountain.

The slave and the fishing nets are obvious rocks among the trees at the front.