Sir Charles Napier, after who Napier is named, fought at the January 1809 Battle of Corunna in Spain during the Napoleonic wars. In recognition of this in the 1850s, a bay around the west side of Scinde Island (now Bluff Hill) was named Corunna Bay.

Alfred Domett, who named most of Napier's early street names did not name this area, and it has been suggested that soldiers stationed on the island did.

After the skirmish between Chiefs Te Hapuku and Te Moananui in late 1857, European settlers became nervous of Te Moananui and requested troops for their protection. The 65th Royal Irish Regiment arrived and set up camp in the Onepoto Gully before their barracks were built on what was the site of Napier Hospital.

In early European settlement the only way to get to the beach was by water.


The beach at Corunna Bay was named Onepoto - which means in Maori little or short beach. Maori used the location to gather seafood from Te Whanganui-a-Orotu (inner harbour).

Alexander Alexander established a trading post on Onepoto Beach in 1846, and he anchored his trading schooner at Corunna Bay.

An early settler remarked in 1893 that when the railway came past in the 1870s (as pictured) the beach as Corunna Bay disappeared, and the Onepoto Gully later became known as Main St.

The pre-1900 picture shows Hyderabad Rd is and the railway line to the Spit (Ahuriri).

If you belong to a non-profit group as a volunteer and wish to attend an accountants for non-accountants seminar on November 14 from 5.30pm until 8.30pm, which I am running for Volunteering Hawke's Bay at a minimal cost, please email me

Michael Fowler ( is the heritage officer at the Art Deco Trust, and trainer in accounting for non-accountants