Mulga Bill’s Stopover – Historic Location
Contributed by local historian Wallace Wihongi.
In 1054 the first Maori settlers arrived in New Zealand and established themselves in Northland. The group journeyed to Lake Omapere where tohunga (priests) performed ceremonies to install Mauri (wellbeing) on Aotearoa. With the country thus prepared for habitation, they then travelled southward, creating settlements on the way.
At this location gardens were planted, and the first three burial sites were set aside. They named the place Ngapuhi after a Hawaiian ancestor. A marae was also built and named Puhimoanaaricki. A modern Marae welcomes visitors just 10 minutes away. One of Maori’s great leaders Hongi Hika was born just 400m from Mulga Bill’s Stopover. Hongi Hika travelled to England in 1820 where he was acknowledged as an equal by King George IV. He also visited Cambridge University where he helped compile the first Maori alphabet and grammar.
In the early 1940s an airport was built by the American Armed Forces on Ngapuhi land to receive the injured from their Pacific campaign. The airfield still has one of the longest runways in the southern hemisphere. A hospital was also built along Mangakahia Road, where Northland College now stands.
Kaikohe Airport was used by Air North for a passenger service up until the late 1970s. During that decade Kerikeri airport was being used by other airlines. Air North, which was not allowed to use Kerikeri Airport, lost customers and eventually stopped flights.
For further information on the history of Air North and Kaikhohe Airport go to: