The European name for this bay was given by Captain Lambert of the HMS Alligator in 1834 in honour of Vice-Admiral Sir Thomas Hardy, at that time, First Sea Lord at the Admiralty. Prior to this, European whalers referred to it as New Harbour. 1
Māori referred to the port as Paraore or possibly Ngawanga as referenced by Colonel Wakefield, principal agent for the New Zealand Company, in his journal when visiting New Zealand in January 1840.2
In September 1834, Port Hardy saw the first contingent of British soldiers come ashore in New Zealand. Piloted by the whaler John Guard, HMS Alligator, in company with the schooner Isabella, while heading for the Taranaki coast to rescue Guard's wife, children and crew following the wreck of his ship, was blown southward off course, and sought refuge in Port Hardy, or at this time, as Guard referred to it, New Harbour. The soldiers on board of the 50th (Queen's Own) Regiment were taken ashore and remained in the port for several days. The ships and soldiers returned on multiple occasions, recording the beauty of the bush clad harbour and noting the plentiful and tasty muscles and cockles.3
It was this incident that led to the survey and naming of Port Hardy by the HMS Alligator and the harbour becoming known to the New Zealand Land Company who in 1839 made Port Hardy the rendezvous point between their representative, Colonel Wakefield and immigrants aboard British immigration ships. During his visit in 1840, Colonel Wakefield also noted the beauty and safety of the harbour but concluded it was not suitable for permanent settlement due to the steep gradient of the hills and shallow water not appropriate for trading vessels. The site of settlement was instead to be at Port Nicholson/ Te Whanganui-a-Tara.
Nevertheless, Port Hardy was to be the first sight of their new country for many New Zealand Company immigrants during the early 1840s. During this period Port Hardy was visited by many of the immigrant ships after which early Wellington landmarks are named, including the the Cuba, Aurora and Oriental, Duke of Roxborough, Bengal Merchant, Adelaide and Bolton.4
1. Olive Baldwin, Story of New Zealand’s French Pass and d’Urville Island (Plimmerton: Fields Publishing House, 1979) 140-141.
2. William Wakefield, “Colonel Wakefield’s Fourth Journal,” The New Zealand Journal, August 29, 1840, accessed, May 2, 2018, https://library.huttcity.mebooks.co.nz/text/NZJournal18400829/t1-g1-t16-body-d1.html
3. I. W. Keys, “The Cultural Succession and Ethnographic Features of D'Urville Island”, The Journal of the Polynesian Society, 69 (1960), accessed April 24, 2018, http://www.jps.auckland.ac.nz/document/?wid=3081
4. Baldwin, French Pass and d’Urville Island, 71, 82-84.