Our Stories / Heritage Sites
Te Kurī a Pāoa, Young Nick’s Head
This prominent, white-cliffed headland at the south of the bay is a significant place for Tūranganui a Kiwa tribes. Its name, Te Kurī a Pāoa, means ‘the dog of Pāoa’. Pāoa was the captain of the Horouta canoe, which landed in Tūranganui-a-Kiwa in the early part of the 14th century.
Cook named the white-cliffed headland at the southern end of the bay Young Nick’s Head in honour of 12-year-old Nicholas Young, the first person on board the Endeavour to sight land. Young’s reward was two gallons of rum and the naming of the headland, already known to tangata whenua as Te Kurī a Paoā or Te Kuri.
The land Young sighted from the masthead in the early afternoon of 6 October 1769 was most likely the ranges further inland and south of the bay. Young may have been part of botanist Joseph Banks’ group, or a servant to either surgeon William Monkhouse or surgeon’s mate William Perry.
A bronze statue of Young by sculptor Frank Szirmay was erected as part of the Cook bicentenary commemorations in 1969, a gift from the NZ Insurance Co. Unveiled by Governor-General Sir Arthur Porritt, the statue faced Whataupoko from its original location within the children’s playground next to Churchill Park. It was relocated in 1988, more appropriately, to the mouth of the Tūranganui River, and positioned to point across the bay to Young Nick’s Head.
In 2002, American financier John Griffin’s proposed purchase of the 680ha Young Nick’s Station initially brought objection about a national icon being sold, particularly from Ngai Tāmanuhiri who occupied a chilly Nick’s Head hillside, then Parliament grounds, in protest.
Worst fears never eventuated. The cliffs, pa site and Te Kuri peak were gifted into public ownership, and the rest of the headland protected from commercial development through a QEII covenant.