In 1934, the members of the Auckland Harbour Board moved that the channels connecting the Hauraki Gulf / Tīkapa Moana to the Pacific Ocean be given names. They suggested that the three approach passages should each honour a popular Governor-General, with five more titles being assigned to the channels inside the Gulf.
This proposal underwent some modification. The hydrographer to the Admiralty asserted that allocating so many names to a relatively small area would hinder the direction of shipping. In response, the Harbour Board reduced the number of suggested titles down to three: Bledisloe, Cradock, and Jellicoe, with each applying to a greater expanse of water than had originally been envisaged. These changes proved acceptable to the Marine Department, which adopted the scheme during 1935.
Cradock Channel was named after British Rear-Admiral Christopher Cradock who commanded the Royal Navy’s 4th Cruiser Squadron in the early stages of the First World War.
Cradock has gone down in history as a brave, but reckless, leader. His squadron was made up of obsolete and under-armed vessels, crewed by inexperienced sailors. Nevertheless, on 1 November 1914, he chose to engage a vastly superior German force commanded by Vice-Admiral Maximilian von Spee off the coast of Chile. The resulting Battle of Coronel was a disaster for the British. They lost the armoured cruisers HMS GOOD HOPE and HMS MONMOUTH, in addition to Cradock and over 1,500 of his men. For their part, the Germans had a total of three sailors wounded.
- Auckland Star, 10 July 1934, p. 9; 14 November 1934, p. 6; 27 May 1935, p. 4.
- Heathcote, Tony, The British Admirals of the Fleet, 1734-1995: A Biographical Dictionary, Barnsley: Leo Cooper, 2002.
- New Zealand Geographic Board, ‘New Zealand Gazetteer’