Seafarers, adventurers, settlers looking for a new life in a new land, they came from afar, firstly in canoes, and later in the longships.
The oceans were their highways and the land they found was Aotearoa, the Land of the Long White Cloud - known today as New Zealand.
Some history suggests that representatives of more than one branch of Pacific peoples reached New Zealand in early times.
According to Elsdon Best portions of the North Island, including Poverty Bay and the East Coast were first settled by "Mouriuri" or "Mauriwi".
He maintained they were descendants of three canoes which reached the Taranaki coast from "Horanui-a-tau" their homeland and spread around the North Cape down along the East Coast.
In his opinion they were of mixed Polynesian - Melanesian extraction.
The Toi people, who landed in New Zealand in the 12th century, intermarried with them and, consequently the inhabitants whom the settlers of the 14th centuary Pilgrim Fleet found in New Zealand were of mixed Mouriuri-Toi descent.
Gisborne was also the first landfall in New Zealand of Captain James Cook, one of the world's greatest navigators.
Though he was not the first, the Yorkshire navigator in his converted coalcat The Endeavour, made history when he stepped ashore in October 1769.
Unfortunately, a misunderstanding which resulted in the death of several local Maori sent Cook sailing on without getting the provisions he had hoped for.
The thought of his failure to secure provisions and of his empty water-casks persuaded Cook to give one of the country's most fertile and productive regions the singularly inappropriate name - Poverty Bay.
Cook eventually replenished, sailing first in a southerly direction before turning north again he found water and hospitality in Anaura Bay and Tolaga Bay.
Turanga, as Gisborne was originally called, grew around the port area and as far as the Europeans were concerned the founder of the township was Captain John William Harris a seaman born in Cornwall in 1808.
In 1830-31 he was sent here by his Sydney firm, J.B. Montefiore and Co in the early stages of the flax boom to set up trading stations in the area.
Harris married a woman of influence, Tukura, and settled in the district where he was involved in trading, whaling and laid the foundations of farming in 1835 when he bought a block of land called Opou.
He built a trading station on his land on the banks of the Waipaoa River and set up a loading wharf for the convenience of small craft.
About 1845 another English seaman, Captain George Edward Read, put down roots in the region after visiting the port on several occasions.
Born in 1815, he opened a store at Mawhai, where he supervised the construction of a 24-ton schooner, which he named Mendlesham, his Suffolk birthplace.
She was in the East Coast trade with Read as master until 1852, when he opened a store in Waipiro Bay and then established a store and built a jetty on the eastern bank of the Turanganui River in front of the site later occupied by the Kaiti Freezing Works.
The district was indebted to Read for timely additions to the labour supply.
In the 1870s, he made several sailngs to Auckland and offered tradesmen and their families assisted passages to Gisborne, adding considerably to the town's population and skilled workforce.
Meanwhile maize was being extensively grown by Maori on the East Coast.
There were also good crops of potatoes, kumaras, taro, melons, pumpkins, cabbage, onions and other vegetables.
The author Salmon said in his Rovings in the Pacific, that he and a friend paid a visit to Rangitukia and climbed a high hill to obtain a view of the Waiapu Valley.
Every small hill was found to be under cultivation to some degree.
Much of the land had been cropped in potatoes, and ripening maize crops were in abundance.
The East Coast War in 1865 gave production a severe setback and when the Te Kooti revolt opened in 1868 it almost came to a standstill.
The two conflicts were related inasmuch that Te Kooti was exiled to the Chatham Islands, without trial and still claiming his innocence for any part in the attacks on settlers which saw tribe fighting tribe in the 1865 war.
These events were unfortunate in the extreme.Te Kooti's escape from the Chathams and his eventual massacre of settlers here left deep wounds.
Maori and Europeans were killed in the conflict that raged throughout the region and it took many, many years before trust was restored.
In the meantime, Gisborne grew to small city status, population around the 30,000 mark.
Ancestors of the early migrations now live in a rich cultural mix, and with Maori making up almost 50% of the population the Maori culture is still strong.
Today tourists pour in from all over the world to see what the first city to see the sun has to offer.
They find miles of surf-strewn sandy beaches, beautiful parks and bushland, with a progressive city centre.
Not to mention home-grown fruit of every description as well as some of the world's best beef, wines, cider and cheese.