Our district is located in the north-eastern corner of the central North Island. We are also referred to as the East Cape, East Coast, Eastland region and Tairāwhiti. Gisborne is the easternmost city in New Zealand.
We are the largest district council in the North Island, our district covers 8386 square kilometres of land with 1855 kilometres of local roads. The population of the Gisborne region is about 43,653.
See our population forecasts
Link to the 2013 census QuickStats for Gisborne district
Iwi in our region
The main iwi of the region Te Tairāwhiti are:
- Ngati Porou - 2013 census (1mb)
- Rongowhakaata - 2013 census (1mb)
- Ngai Tamanuhiri - 2013 census (1mb)
- Te Aitanga a Mahaki - 2013 census (1mb)
Landscape and features
Titirangi (Kaiti Hill) overlooks the city and you can view Poverty Bay and the surrounding rural areas.
The white cliff headland of Young Nick's Head is visible from the city. The Māori name for the cliffs is Te Kurī-ā-Paoa, meaning The Dog of Paoa.
Gisborne is also known as the city of rivers. The Taruheru and Waimata Rivers join to form the 1200 metre Turanganui River - the shortest river in the country.
Mount Hikurangi is the fifth highest mountain in the North Island, but the highest non-volcanic peak. Hikurangi is the first mountain in the world to see the sun.
Tourism and industry
Our district is a popular holiday location. We have safe beaches and a warm sunny climate.
Freedom camping is available around our district.
We also have 9 summer campgrounds operating during daylight savings months.
Local industry includes agriculture, horticulture, fishing, farming and forestry. Wine production is also valuable to the local economy.
Our district's history
Nā Mayor Meng Foon
Koromatua - Te Kaunihera a rohe o Te Tairāwhiti
Tena koutou ki a matau o te kainga nei me nga manuhiri e tau nei, nau mai haere mai, ki enei wharangi o te Kaunihera a rohe.
Welcome to the first city in the world to see the first sun light. This wonderful gift was presented to us by Maui-Tikitiki-a-Taranga who fished up the Ika-a-Maui (North Island). His waka (canoe) "Nukutaimemeha" is said to rest atop of Mount Hikurangi, the ancestral mountain of the Ngati Porou people.
Rawhiti (the east) was first inhabited by Māori who sailed in canoes from far away; the canoes were Horouta, Takitimu, Nukutere, Tereanini and others. The main tribes that are known today are, Ngati Porou, Aitanga-a-Hauiti, Ngai Tamanuhiri, Rongo Whakaata, Whanau a Kai and Te Aitanga-a-Mahaki.
Captain James Cook arrived here on 9 October 1769. He landed on Kaiti beach. No stores were traded so he named our region 'Poverty Bay'.
In the late 1880s there was confusion between the original name of our place - 'Turanga' and Tauranga and due to a clerical bungle, our name Turanga was debated in parliament and by our community. William Gisborne, Colonial Secretary proposed that the city be named after him - to this day we are known as Gisborne city.
We boast many firsts in our 'Rawhiti' region
- Eastwoodhill Arboretum - has the largest collection of northern hemisphere trees planted in the southern hemisphere
- Tolaga Bay Wharf - at 660 metres is the longest concrete wharf in the southern hemisphere
- The Turanganui River - at 1200 metres is the shortest river in the country
- We are the first city to greet the sun each day
- We have the largest pohutukakwa tree in the world at Te Araroa
- One of 2 airports in the world which has a railway line crossing the tarmac
- We are known as the chardonnay capital
Our district today
Our business sectors are supported by horticulture, agriculture, tourism, viticulture, manufacturing, food processing, forest and timber processing.
Our region represents 5% of New Zealand's land area. The drive around East Coast along State Highway 35 and through the Waioeka Gorge is stunning. It's good to be the passenger, soaking up the scenery.
The people of our region are rich in culture, dominated by iwi culture, supported by 87 ethnicities. We continue to strive towards excellence in all aspects of our council and our community.
Our doors are always open, nau mai, piki mai, ki a matau rohe ataahua.
Gisborne 1964 - Archives New Zealand
New Zealand television and radio personality Selwyn Toogood visits Gisborne. He talks to some of the townspeople about life in this centre of farming and market gardening.
Gisborne Photo News
Check out Gisborne Photo News online
Photo News was a monthly magazine published between 1954 and 1975. In that time residents of Gisborne, East Coast, Wairoa and Opotiki used to look forward to the latest issue hitting the bookshops.