Heritage Trail

Te Ara Tuku Iho o nga Tupuna Matua o Mangonui

Beginning and ending at the Mangonui Courthouse, the Heritage Trail provides a glimpse of the great wealth of Maori and European history associated with this area.

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.

Heritage Trail of Mangonui | A fine walk around the Heritage Precinct of Mangonui township in Far North New Zealand nz | Site 1

This is the second of two courthouses built in Mangonui. The first, constructed in 1850, also served as a customs house and bond store but had become too small. The present building functioned as a courthouse until 1948 when court proceedings moved to Kaitaia; then as a police station from 1949 to 1976. Its future became uncertain, and concerned local residents formed the Mangonui Courthouse Preservation Society. Funds were raised for restoration, and much of the work was carried out by local volunteers. In 1980, the property was gazetted as a historic reserve. It is currently administered by the Department of Conservation in conjunction with the Mangonui Courthouse Preservation Society. The building is open as a craft co-operative seven days a week. Please feel free to go inside.

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