The landmark that signals our arrival in Tolaga Bay is a roadside Department of Conservation sign identifying the Henri Loisel Scenic Reserve on State Highway 35.
Approaching Tolaga Bay from Gisborne the road travels inland of Waihau Bay before climbing over a saddle to enter the Tolaga Bay catchment. Here a large native forest remnant is protected as a scenic reserve
So who was Henri Loisel?
Henri Loisel was an early European settler in Tolaga Bay. Born in Holland he migrated to Australia and took work as a clerk with a wool firm in Melbourne. In the early 1870's he arrived in Tolaga Bay and in 1875 he acquired the lease on a farming property named "Puatai". Five years later in 1880 he took up the lease of another property called "Waihau" which he later converted to freehold.
During that time, Tolaga Bay had no road connection to Gisborne with people and freight coming and going by sea. Surveying the route for a road meant acquiring land and Henri Loisel made available the land for the road to traverse his property and cross from Waihau Bay to Tolaga Bay. He lived and farmed in the area for many years and during WWI was prominent in patriotic activities. He died 86 years ago in October 1932.
Loisel family members are buried in the Tolaga Bay cemetary at the northern end of the beach and the family still has connections with Tolaga Bay. Today they continue to own land on Pourewa Island near Opoutama Cooks Cove at the southern end of Tolaga Bay.
Henri Loisel was clearly a community minded man whose willingness to help connect Tolaga Bay to the outside world is still benefiting the community. Knowing a little of his story adds an interesting historical perspective to our own visits to Tolaga Bay as some of the more recent arrivals in the area following in Henri's footsteps 140 years after him.
This blog is the ongoing story of our piece of paradise on the East Cape we have named Tāne's Rest. Visit our About pages to read more about our project, and feel free to leave a comment on any of our posts.
Uawa County existed for 45 years from 1 December 1918 to 1 April 1964 before merging with Cook County. Click on the map to download a copy.