Excavation done by the Whakatane Borough Council has uncovered evidence that much of the present site of the town was once overrun by sea. Skeletons of two or three human beings, which crumbled into dust when touched, were uncovered. Obviously they were of great age. Last year other ancient human remains were discovered near the Whakatane District Hospital.
Particularly interesting about these was the shape of the head of one which sloped back sharply from the eyebrows unlike the usual Maori or European head-structures. The skull seems to have belonged to a person with distinct Negroid facial characteristics.
Similar findings in Whakatane in recent years indicate that the natural features around the town have seen tremendous change and that the district is on one of the oldest and most densely populated by the early Maori.
-New Zealand Freelance 18th July 1951 page 34.
I wonder how reliable this tale is? No author noted.