What's in a name? Quite a lot it seems. Anzac Bay at Bowentown was once named St George's Bay. The name was changed in January 1916 to honour those who served and fell at Gallipoli. The change received popular approval, but not everybody was happy ...

The Naming of Anzac Bay
Katikati Domain, Christening Anzac Bay, A Large Gathering
Widespread support ...
But not from everybody ...
The government gets involved
and so do writers of 'Letters to the Editor'...

The Naming of Anzac Bay

Sue Baker Wilson

Katikati has Anzac links that go back to the first Irish settlers and the town’s founder George Vesey Stewart.

Family names that appear on the passenger manifests of the ‘first ships’ bringing passengers bound for Katikati, the Dover Castle, Carisbrooke Castle and Lady Jocelyn, also appear on the Katikati Roll of Honour that remembers those who served in the Great War. In 1914, New Zealand descendants along with local Maori and Katikati newcomers enlisted in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force to fight in World War One.

Harry Pritt died on his first day in action on 8 August 1915 and is recorded as Katikati’s first World War One death. 46 year-old Pritt, along with other members of the Auckland Infantry 5th Reinforcements, landed and went straight into the firing line at Anzac Cove, Gallipoli.

Shortly after, in September 1915, Katikati celebrated the fortieth anniversary of the 1875 landing of the first Stewart ‘special settlement party’.

At a Domain Board meeting, while the members were discussing improvements to St George's Bay at the Katikati Entrance to Tauranga Harbour it's similarity to Anzac Cove was noted.

'If we may judge of the photographs published of Anzac Bay, with the precipitous ascent from the beach, the bay at present referred to, is a perfect miniature replica of Anzac, and the Chairman suggested that application should be made to the Department to have the bay officially named "Anzac," to perpetuate the memory of our gallant boys and their fellow soldiers, who so heroically distinguished themselves on the occasion of the fatal landing. The suggestion will probably be adopted, and should prove a source of additional attraction to Tauranga and her harbour'.

George Vesey Stewart was chairman of the Tauranga Harbour Board in 1915. In November this board wrote to Tauranga MP William Herries requesting a name change for the sheltered bay known patriotically as St George’s Bay.

The Tauranga Harbour Board resolved:

‘that the Hon. Mr Herries be requested to make arrangements with the department having charge of such matters to have St Georges’s Bay at Katikati Heads officially named Anzac Bay in commemoration of our heroic boys and their fellow soldiers who so gallantly effected a landing at Anzac Bay at Gallipoli’.

The request was duly granted. St George’s Bay officially became Anzac Bay, and in doing so became one of the first memorials in New Zealand to events at Gallipoli.

Two of Stewart’s grandsons died during the Great War. George Cecil Stewart was born at Katikati. He served with the Wellington Regiment and died age 33 in October 1918. Douglas Horatio Dumbleton, aged 28, served with the New Zealand Rifle Brigade. He was killed in action at Passchendaele in October 1917. He is remembered along with George Vesey Stewart on the altar at St Peter’s Anglican Church in Katikati.

In the same month that his grandson George died, Stewart received the award of Order of the British Empire from the King for ‘services in connection with the war’.

George Vesey Stewart died in 1920. A memorial to him was unveiled in the Uretara Domain on Anzac Day 1922 by Sir William Herries, the same man whose help as a government minister had been enlisted with the renaming of Anzac Bay some years earlier.

Katikati’s contribution to World War One – sixty men out of a population of 400 – was proportionally larger than the country’s as a whole. Like other towns, we have a memorial hall and memorial gates. We should remember that we also have a very special early memorial, Anzac Bay, a safe family beach, named almost a century ago to honour those who served in perilous circumstances.

Special thanks to staff at Port of Tauranga Ltd and Tauranga City Libraries for their help with research for this story.

Below are newspaper reports of the day from the Bay of Plenty Times that detail celebrations on site to mark the renaming of Anzac Bay and the general response from the wider community

A Large Gathering.
Bay Of Plenty Times, Volume XLIV, Issue 6582, 8 January 1916, Page 2

A short time ago the Katikati Domain Board decided, owing to the increasing number of picnicers and excursionists who annually visited Bowentown Heads, that some better provision for their comfort was needed, they accordingly set about providing a jetty and a shelter shed, and on Thursday the two were officially opened and the name Anzac given to the bay in which they stand. This bay is prettily situated right at the Bowentown entrance, and from the promontory on the seaward side a magnificent view is obtained. The wharf itself is situated on the eastern side of the bay and just above it, a little inshore, stands the shelter shed, which is, however, something more than its name implies. It is over thirty feet long, with one end partitioned off and provided with an open fireplace for boiling water, a plentiful supply of which can be obtained from a well close at hand. The main portion of the building, which is some ten feet wide, makes an excellent waiting room, shelter shed, luncheon room, or whatever other use to which it may be found necessary to put it. It was evident from the state of the floor that the camp population now at the Bay had been holding dances there.

On Wednesday afternoon the Manuwai went to Katikati to be in readiness to take the excursionists from there to the heads on Thursday. She left shortly before nine o'clock on Thursday morning with a full load, and many others journeyed to the heads in various ways. The Manuwai reached the rendezvous about ten, followed immediately by a Tauranga party aboard the Sybil, who had had a pleasant though somewhat wet run of three hours from town.

Arrived at the bay the excursionists spread themselves in various directions and shortly afterwards again gathered at the jetty, where Mr Geo. Vesev Stewart, chairman of the Domain Board, in a happy speech declared the jetty and shed open and conferred the name of Anzac upon the bay. The Bay said Mr Stewart would stand as an everlasting monument to the brave Australian and New Zealand boys who landed at Anzac. The letters of the word too would always remind us of those memorable deeds. ”A" stood for Australia, “NZ" for New Zealand and "AC” for the Allies’ Cause.

At 12.30 the visitors, among whom were Mr D Donaldson, Mayor of Waihi, Mr C E Macmillan, Mayor of Tauranga, Mr H D Morpeth, Town Clerk, Waihi, Mr C Lowe, Secretary of the Tauranga Harbour Board, and Messrs H Southey, J C Adams, Mr Petherbridge, of the Katikati Marine Trading Company, B C Robbins, and Captain Millar, Harbourmaster, were entertained at an excellent lunch by the Katikati folk.

During the afternoon the visitors again gathered in the shelter shed, and the following toast list was honoured: —The King, Army and Navy, Local Bodies, The Visitors, the local Marine Service (coupled with the name of Mr Petherbridge), Mr Hutchinson (the Board's Ranger and the superintendent of the work of erecting the jetty and shed) The Press, and the Ladies.

About 5 o'clock a start was made for home, cheers being exchanged as the Sybil, with the Tauranga party, left, and a pleasant and memorable day ended. The Sybil made the ran home outside the heads in slightly under two hours, and the party received the kindest of attention from Messrs Ingram and Menges on both the run up and down.

Widespread support ...
Bay Of Plenty Times, Volume XLIV, Issue 6670, 19 April 1916, Page 4
From a correspondent
A most enjoyable concert, followed by a dance, was held in the Hall on Wednesday, 12th inst., the occasion being to extend a public welcome to two of our boys, Willie Young und Harry Passfield, who have returned from the battlefield at Gallipoli and the heroic but fatal landing at Anzac Bay. Privates W Young and H. Passfield have recently been under treatment at Bethnal Green Hospital, London. The former is on leave, expiring next month when he returns to active service, but the latter has been medically pronounced as incapacitated, and informed me that he had that day received his discharge from the service on a pension of 17s 6a per week. Mr Vesey Stewart occupied the chair, and was supported by the Key. W. Herbert Rattry, the Vicar of Katikati.

The chairman, in opening the proceedings and extending a sincere and hearty welcome to their two guests delivered a patriotic address, which was very warmly received by a closely packed hall; in fact, I do not remember on any previous occasion having seen the building so well filled. The concert was opened by a solo by Miss Frodsham, followed by songs by Mr Beagrie, Miss Henry, Mr Evan Morgan (Waihi), Mrs Maurice Jones (of Paeroa), Miss Day (of Tauranga) Mr McLoavy (of Waihi) and Miss Petersen. The school children, armed with miniature rifles and attired in improvised military uniforms, went through evolutions on the stage, Mrs Mackay presiding at the piano. After an interval, the children again appeared on the stage and as tableaux vivants, fairly brought down the house, reflecting the greatest credit on themselves and on Mrs and Mr Mackay (the teacher of No. 1 School). The concert concluded with a duet from Mrs T. Rea and Mr Beagrie, songs from Mrs Maurice Jones and Mr Evan Morgan. Mesdames Mackay, Rattry, and Rea and Mademoiselles Day, Frodsham and Shandley presided at the piano. It appears to be almost invidious to refer to any of the performers, but Mrs Maurice Jones, who is well known in New Zealand for her rich contralto voice, was vehemently encored; also, Messrs Morgan and McLeay: nor should omit reference to local talent in the person of Mr Beagrie, who, at the special request by the Chairman, gave us "A Long Way to Tipperary."

The concert programme having been concluded, Privates Young and Passfield were called up on the platform, when, the Chairman, in feeling terms, presented to each of the Anzac Bay heroes a gold medallion bearing on one side the following inscription: "Presented to Private Young (or Passfield) by the residents of Katikati." The reverse side was inscribed: " Anzac Bay, April 25, 1915."
Rev. Mr Rattry then moved a hearty vote of thanks to the Chairman, the performers at the concert, and to the local committee. The vote was carried by acclamation. Then followed the singing of the National Anthem, to the accompaniment at the piano by Mrs Mackay. Supper and hot tea were then handed round by a large number of waiters of both sexes, and the good things having been thus safely deposited, the room was speedily cleared for dancing, which was kept up with great vigour till the early hours of the following morning.
Mr John Martinsen was hon. secretary to the committee, and, with the members thereof, deserves the greatest credit and hearty thanks of our community for the success of the entertainment, which realised over £17, which I am informed is to be paid over to the Chaplains' Fund at the front.

We hear now a great deal from all quarters of New Zealand in support of honouring the name of Anzac Bay— and most rightly too —but we do not forget the remark made by your worthy Mayor at the opening ceremony of the wharf and shelter home at our miniature Anzac Bay, Katikati Heads, when he rightly said that Katikati was the first place in New Zealand that took up this idea of nomenclature.

but not from everybody ...
Bay Of Plenty Times, Volume XLIV, Issue 6710, 12 June 1916, Page 2
The printed stationery of the Kaiikati Road Board bears the following heading: "Katikati Road Board. Katikati Domain Board (Anzac Bay)." At the meeting of the Taurarga Harbour Board on Wednesday a letter from Mr G V Stewart was read, which contained the following passage:-

“Anzac Bay - l am writing this letter on paper headed as above, not withstanding the objection raised by some sapient Minister, who suggested a Maori name. We have the Maoris always amongst us, but we desire to perpetuate forever the memorial to our gallant boys who have so nobly discharged their duty to their king and country. If it is officially desired to wipe out this memorial the Government can or may proceed by injunction in the Supreme Court against the Domain Board."

the government gets involved ...
Bay Of Plenty Times, Volume XLIV, Issue 6025, 26 February 1916, Page 4
The monthly meeting of the Katikati Road Board was held on Saturday last …
A large amount of correspondence was disposed of referring to Anzac Bay Domain, the most quibbling reply to this change of name having been sent in two letters by the Department, but having then appealed to the Hon. Mr Herries he concludes his last letter in the following words: “ l am asking my colleague (Mr Massey) to take steps to have a clause, enabling the application to be given effect to, inserted in the next Washing-up Bill submitted to the House." This was the Chairman's request, when direct application to the Lands Department, Wellington, appeared to meet with disappointment.

and so do writers of 'Letters to the Editor' ...
A Matter of Names.
Bay Of Plenty Times, Volume XLIV, Issue 6544, 19 November 1915, Page 3
(To the Editor.)
Sir - Has the good intentions of the Tauranga Harbour Board in altering, or rather passing, a resolution that St. George's Bay, Katikati, be henceforth known as Anzac Bay, been rightly done. I think a mistake has been made. Of course mistakes in these days are common, but why this deliberate error of judgment. St. George was England's great Saint, and at this period of our nation's history, why introduce foreign names? We intern all enemy subjects, yet we seek to perpetuate names that will serve to remind us of disasters, although true, great gallantry was also displayed by the brave sons of New Zealand. King George occupies the throne of our Empire to-day. Why not retain the name George if the prefix Saint is not in keeping with some people's idea of beauty and harmony. Then we have George Vesey Stewart, the father of Katikati, its guide, philosopher and friend. Why is he passed over? I therefore enter this humble, but emphatic protest against a change that is ill-timed and unnecessary. If a change is to be made delete the prefix Saint. The name George can then remind us of Britain's noble King during the most trying times in the history of the World. It will serve to recall henceforth and for ever the might and power of George Vesey Stewart, explorer, magistrate, and politician, yet always one of the people, who champions the claims of the rich and poor alike fears no foe, has played an important part in laying the foundations of our growing Dominion, and still found alert-and willing to do his duty, and lastly the present name will practically be retained, thus recognising the good intentions of those who first christened Katikati's charming sea beach picnic resort. —I have spoken.
November 17th, 1915.