Lieutenant James Cook would give the bay he sailed into on October 12, 1769, the name Hawke's Bay after the First Lord of the Admiralty, Edward Hawke (1705‒1781).
What better way to impress your boss than to name a sweeping, grand bay after him?
Cook's sealed orders from the Admiralty for his expedition from England mentioned "with the consent of the natives, to take possession of convenient situations in the country in the name of the King of Great Britain; or if you find the country uninhabited, take possession for His Majesty by setting up proper marks and inscriptions as first discoverers and possessors."
Clearly the land that Cook came across was inhabited, but that did not stop him from giving names to locations (already named by Maori) as he chartered and circumnavigated what was not the fabled Great Southern Continent, but the 1642 Abel Tasman named, New Zealand. The Maori name for Hawke's Bay is Te Matau-a-Māui.
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Possibly Poverty Bay could have received the name Hawke's Bay, but Cook was not impressed with the area as it afforded him no supplies for his ship.
Edward Hawke, First Lord of the Admiralty, was a Royal Navy officer, and became a very successful captain in the Battle of Toulon in 1744. In 1747 he captured six French ships in the Battle of Biscay.
He secured a victory over the French fleet during the Seven Years' War in 1759. He developed the concept of a Western Squadron, creating a blockade of the French coast preventing a French invasion of Britain.
Hawke sat in the House of Commons from 1747 to 1776 and was First Lord of the Admiralty from 1766 to 1771.
During his time as Lord of the Admiralty he dealt with a crisis in the Falkland Islands in 1770, when Britain, France and Spain claimed sovereignty of the South Atlantic Ocean islands.
It was Hawke who was influential in the decision to give James Cook the command of expedition of 1768 to record the transit of Venus across the Sun in Tahiti, before he visited New Zealand.
The Royal Geographical Society wanted a civilian to lead the expedition, but Hawke was reported as saying "he would sooner have his right hand cut off than allow this to happen".
In Cook's profound gratitude to Hawke, not only Hawke's Bay in New Zealand was named for him, but also Cape Hawke in New South Wales.
When New Zealand became a British Colony in 1840 after the Treaty of Waitangi, it was separated from being part of New South Wales during 1841, and three provinces were created, of which Hawke's Bay was part of the New Ulster province.
This lasted until 1853 when six new provinces were created, and Hawke's Bay became part of Wellington province.
Dissatisfaction with this arrangement ‒ especially when Wellington took most of the money from customs and land sales and spent it down south, lead to the formation of the Hawke's Bay Herald (now Hawke's Bay Today) to push for separation of Hawke's Bay from Wellington.
This occurred on November 1, 1858, and is now celebrated as a provincial holiday on the Friday before Labour Day each year.
Some of the former provinces were preceded by "the", such as "the Manawatu", but Hawke's Bay, although referred to some still as "the Hawke's Bay", was not addressed as such, in the same way Auckland was not called "the Auckland".
Debate has also centred around the apostrophe in Hawke's Bay, with the normal nomenclature being to leave out the possessive apostrophe in place names.
James Cook first referred to Hawke's Bay with the possessive apostrophe when he named it, but subsequently recorded it as "Hawkes Bay" on his map of New Zealand.
First newspaper reports from 1840 have mostly used an apostrophe in Hawke's Bay, and so this was used on official records in connection with the area.
The New Zealand Geographical Board lists only two places with a possessive apostrophe – Arthur's Pass and Hawke's Bay.
While Hawke's Bay was named by James Cook to refer to the sea area between Mahia and Cape Kidnappers, this now refers to the coastal land area and the sea is now named Hawke Bay.
Initially Hawke's Bay included the area from Norsewood to Woodville as part of Hawke's Bay, but is now part of the Tararua District.
In 1875, the provinces were abolished and in 1876, 63 counties were created from the provinces, and these lasted until 1989.
The last significant local government reorganisation affected Hawke's Bay in 1989, and next weekend we celebrate the forming of the Hastings District Council.
* Michael Fowler will be giving a brief overview and hosting a panel of Jeff Whittaker, Megan Williams and Mark Von Dadelszen to discuss the 30th Anniversary since the creation of the Hastings District Council. The event will be held at the Havelock North function Centre at 2pm on 3 November. Registration must be confirmed by emailing 30thAnniversary@hdc.govt.nz
* Signed copies of Michael Fowler's Historic Hawke's Bay book are available at $65 from the Hastings Community Art Centre, Russell Street South, Hastings and Wardini Books Havelock North and Napier.
* Michael Fowler FCA (email@example.com) is a chartered accountant, contract researcher and writer of Hawke's Bay's history.