Te Awanui or Tauranga Harbour, is a regional treasure. It is one of New Zealand's largest natural harbours and is home to the country's biggest export port, the port of Tauranga.

The name 'Tauranga' means 'landing place'. 

Hundreds of people, locals and visitors alike, use the harbour everyday, for strolling along beaches, watching birds, fishing, boating or burning off some energy surfing or kite boarding within its sheltered, clear waters. 

Tauranga Harbour is a large tidal estuary covering an area of 218 square kilometres. To drive from one end of the harbour to the other takes about one hour and covers more than 60 kilometres. At the eastern end of the harbour is the landmark Mauao (Mount Maunganui) and the city of Tauranga.

This entrance is deeper and allows for a large number of cargo ships to enter and leave the Port of Tauranga. At the western end is the small coastal settlement of Otāwhiwhi or Bowentown. This entrance is shallower but is often used by recreational boaties.

The harbour catchment

Tauranga Harbour extends beyond simply where the land meets the sea. It covers an area of almost 1,300 square kilometres and contains 27 major rivers and 46 minor streams. It also includes the city of Tauranga, and extensive horticultural and agricultural areas. It starts from Pāpāmoa in the south, runs along the Kaimai Mamaku ranges and extends to Orokawa Bay, north of Waihī Beach. It also includes Makatana Island and Te Awanui Tauranga Harbour, which alone covers an area of 210 square kilometers and is home to one of New Zealand’s largest estuaries. The entire harbour has also been identified as an outstanding natural feature and landscape.

The surrounding land from which water runs into the harbour is used extensively for urban, horticultural and agricultural purposes. The Tauranga area is one of New Zealand's fastest growing residential areas. The climate of the area provides ideal conditions for growing fruit such as kiwifruit and avocados. There is also land in the catchment that is ideal for sheep and cattle grazing.

Tangata Whenua of Tauranga Moana

He aha ra tera e whakakarekare mai ra i a Te Awanui, he matangi, he matangi, he matangi mariri ke
Whatever is that creating ripples on Te Awanui, a breeze, a breeze, an especially gentle breeze.

Tauranga Harbour is a physical and spiritual symbol of identity for all whanau, hapū and iwi living in the area.

Ngāti Ranginui

Ngāti Ranginui are the descendants of ancestors who arrived on the Takitimu Waka and settled in Tauranga Moana. Over many generations, these ancestors and their descendants established villages, fortifications, burial grounds, fishing areas and forest places. Ngāti Ranginui has 10 affiliated hapū and marae, located between Katikati and Waimapu.

Ngāi Te Rangi

Ngāi Te Rangi is a Mataatua tribe, with a rich history which began from our journeys from the East Coast. After many battles, Ngāi Te Rangi resided in Whangarā, then Opotiki, and through intermarriage and many gruelling battles, finally settled in Tauranga Moana. This historical journey is known as Te Heke o Rangihouhiri.

Ngāi Te Rangi have 11 operative Marae and 11 affiliated Hapu located as far north as Katikati through to Te Tumu in the east and on the islands of Matakana, Tuhua, Motiti and Rangiwaea. It is the largest of the three Iwi that have settled in the Tauranga Moana.

Ngāti Pūkenga

Ngāti Pūkenga is a Mataatua tribe, comprising the descendants of Te Tāwera, Ngāti Ha and Ngāti Pūkenga. Their customary lands are located at four dispersed kāinga – Tauranga, Maketu, Manaia and Pakikaikutu. Ngati Pūkenga have eight affiliated hapū and two marae, located at Welcome Bay and the Coromandel.