Mangawhai, Mangawhai Beach, Mangawhai Heads is a place of history and heart
Mangawhai lies on the eastern edge of the Kaipara District with Ruakaka and Whangarei to the North; Matakana and Warkworth to the south. Compromised of the Heads, Village and surrounding areas, Mangawhai languishes at the south west on the border of the Kaipara Harbour.
The area is remarkable with diversity of natural elements including a natural harbour, sand spit and ocean frontage. The sand spit of dramatic dunes forms a protected channel of water connecting the Heads and Village with outlying areas.
Rich in seafood and fertile soil, with an easier natural harbour, Mangawhai has a strong Maori history. Descended from the iwi of Ngati Whatua, the hapu of Te Uri o Hau has become the iwi of Kaipara. Te Uri o Hau descends from Haumoewaarangi through Hakiputatomuri, who is the tribe’s founding ancestor, and includes people who affiliate to nga marae tuturu: Otamatea, Waikaretu, Oruawharo, Arapaoa (William R Wright, Manawhenua Report, Te Uri o Hau Wahapu o Kaipara, December 1996).
In the early 1800s, European settlers collected Kauri gum and timber, transforming the bush into farmland for cattle and sheep. It is during the last 50 years that Mangawhai has undergone its latest renaissance, becoming a haven for artists of all kinds. Ceramics, painting, sculpture, food and music play integral roles in the community culture and spirit of Mangawhai. Food art doesn’t get much better than Bennetts Chocolate Factory and the architectural building is another art form in itself.
Early Maori named Mangawhai for its “stream of the stingray”. References to the stingray and sea life can be seen in the architecture of the Museum building, the local Te Whai Bay wine label, many of the cafes and features strongly in the local art. Many of the buildings are architectural pieces from the Mangawhai Tavern and early Bach designs to the new Museum, Bennetts Chocolate Factory.