Sites are indicated by Heritage Trail markers. Some of these provide information at the site itself. All have a site number and a QR code which can be scanned to provide further information.
The Trail is three kilometres in length and accessible by foot or vehicle. The average time it takes to walk the Trail is one-and-a-half hours. Walkers are advised to take the St Andrew’s walkway to access sites and enjoy the spectacular views from above Mangonui. Please be aware that Mary Hassett Street (formerly known as Grey Street West) and Tasman Street are very steep.
The development of the Mangonui Heritage Trail would not have been possible without the inspiration of Neva Clarke McKenna. Much of the historical information offered on this trail is derived from her book "Mangonui - Gateway to the Far North" published by the Northland Historical Publications Society Inc. in 1990. The Trail itself is based on Ms. Clarke McKenna's Historical Mangonui Walk outlined in her books, "Doubtless Bay" and "Discovering Northland’s Past".
The Polynesian navigator Kupe visited this area about 900 AD in the canoe Mamaru. On a return trip, the Mamaru brought the chiefs Te Parata and Tumoana; ancestors of the Ngati Kahu. Later, another canoe, the Ruakaramea, was guided into a harbour by a shark. Its chief, Moehuri, named the harbour Mangonui, which means 'large shark'.
Mangonui was known as a safe harbour for whaling vessels by the late 1700s and, in 1831, the first European settler arrived.
By the mid 1800s Mangonui was a centre for whalers and traders; the saw milling, flax and gum industries were flourishing. In the 1900s these industries declined; roads replacing the sea as the main transport route and Mangonui became a much quieter place.
At dusk on September 3, 1864, three young sailors lost their lives in an accident while crossing Mangonui Harbour. Four others survived. The drowned men were Alexander Rait, 22 years old, a seaman from England; Edmund Moody, 24 years old, a Black American slave who had arrived aboard the Plover in May, 1864; and John Rose, 24 years old, an American seaman on the Cherokee. The reason for the choice of their burial site remains a mystery. The actual grave site is thought to be 3 metres behind the trail marker.
Looking out to Mill Bay and Mangonui Harbour, the photo below was taken from near this Site in the early 20th Century..
Originally called Hudson Bay (1839), it was renamed Mill Bay after the large timber mill built in 1883 and operated by the Auckland Timber Company. The mill was later known as the Kauri Timber Company. The mill was fully operational until 1901 when trade began to decrease. It was a two-storeyed building occupying four hectares and it could turn out 90,000 metres of timber a month. Logs were floated down the Taipa and Oruati rivers for distances up to 50 kilometres to be milled at Mangonui then sent on to Whangarei and Auckland. The Mill closed 1915 as it was uneconomic to continue. This picture shows the timber mill - now the site of the Mangonui Cruising Club.
The large building right of the shingle roof in the foreground is in the position of the “All Nations Hotel” built at Mill Bay in 1842 by Thomas Flavell during the height of the whaling industry. It was known as blood house and was dubbed the Donnybrook. Men of all nations drank and fought there. Neva Clarke McKenna said this building was either demolished or burnt down the year Flavell died -in 1869.
In 1861 John McIntosh built the first Mangonui Hotel at the southern end of the village. A substantial and handsome edifice. In 1873 the Settlers Hotel was built close to the Donnybrook in Mill Bay but on slightly higher ground. Thomas Berghan ran the Settlers until his death in 1902. His wife Mary Jane, daughter of Joseph Evans of the Waipapakauri Hotel and successful gum trader, carried on until the Settlers was demolished on 3 July 1906. She later ran the Old Oak and also the new Mangonui Hotel. This building with a single brick chimney is the Settlers Hotel. This is confirmed by a photograph in Neva Clarke McKenna’s book Mangonui on page 71 - front view of the building at Mill Bay supplied by the Far North Regional Museum - Museum @ Te Ahu in Kaitaia.
[Courtesy of local Historian, Kaye Dragecevich]
Return along Colonel Mould Drive to Mangonui School and turn right before the school field onto Tasman Street. This is a steep road downhill without any side walk. Early Colonial Villa Site 10 is on your right.