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Cape Kidnappers Gannet Reserve

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Cape Kiddnapers Gannet

The Cape Kidnappers Gannet Reserve is managed by the Department of Conservation whose objective is the protection of the gannet nesting sites. The 13 hectare reserve includes the Saddle and Black Reef gannet colonies. Both are closed to public access. However, the Black Reef colony can be viewed from the beach. The Plateau colony is the main place for viewing the nesting gannets. This colony is located on private land.

Public access to the gannet colonies is closed between July and October. This helps prevent disturbance to the birds during early nesting.

Maui-tikitiki-a-Taranga, the Maori mythical hero, was fishing with his brothers, when he decided to show them his supernatural powers. Using a sacred jaw-bone as a fish-hook and the blood from his nose for bait, he hauled a great fish up from the depths. He fished up the North Island or as the Maori name it, Te-Ika-a-Maui, the Fish of Maui. After Maui departed, his brothers attacked the fish with their weapons, hacking it into pieces and helping to form the mountainous terrain of the North Island. The sacred jawbone used as the hook was left to form what is now known as Hawke Bay. The fish hook shape of the Hawke Bay coastline adds to the legend of Cape Kidnappers origin.

When Captain Cook visited the area in 1769, a group of Maori in canoes came out to the ship Endeavour to trade. They took aboard the canoes a Tahitian boy. Shots were fired at the retreating canoes resulting in some Maori being killed and the boy swimming back to the ship. Cook then named the area where this occurred as Cape Kidnappers.


(page last updated  22 January, 2012)