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Title: Taranaki  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Manawatu-Wanganui, Association of Community Access Broadcasters, New Zealand electorates, Second Taranaki War, Regions of New Zealand
Collection: Taranaki
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Country: New Zealand
Regional council
Name: Taranaki Regional Council
Seat: Stratford
Largest city: New Plymouth
Population: 115,800 June 2015 estimate [1]
Land area: 7,257 km²
Chair: David MacLeod
Deputy chair: David Lean
Tangata whenua
Local iwi Te Āti Awa, Ngā Rauru, Ngā Ruahine, Ngāti Ruanui, Ngāti Maru, Ngāti Mutunga, Ngāti Tama Pakakohi, Tangahoe, Taranaki
Cities and towns
Cities: New Plymouth
Towns, villages and districts: Ahititi, Alton, Auroa, Awakino, Bell Block, Cardiff, Douglas, Eltham, Hawera, Huiakama, Huiroa, Hurleyville, Hurworth, Inglewood, Kakaramea, Kaponga, Kapuni, Lepperton, Manaia, Mangatoki, Mangorei, Midhirst, Mokau, Motunui, Ngaere, Ngamatapouri, Normanby, Oakura, Oaonui, Ohangai, Okato, Omata, Onaero, Opunake, Patea, Pungarehu, Puniho, Rahotu, Ratapiko, Rawhitiroa, Stratford, Strathmore, Te Popo, Toko, Tongaporutu, Tututawa, Urenui, Uruti, Vogeltown, Waipuku, Waitara, Waitoriki, Warea, Waverley, Welbourn, Westown, Whenuakura
Territorial authorities
Names: New Plymouth District Council
Stratford District Council (part)
South Taranaki District Council

Taranaki is a region in the west of New Zealand's North Island, administered by the Taranaki Regional Council. It is named for its main geographical feature, the stratovolcano of Mount Taranaki.

The main centre is the city of New Plymouth. The New Plymouth District has over 65% of the population of Taranaki.[2][3] New Plymouth is in North Taranaki along with Inglewood and Waitara. South Taranaki towns include Hawera, Stratford and Eltham.

Since 2005, Taranaki has used the promotional brand "Like no other".[4]


  • Geography and people 1
    • Cities and towns 1.1
  • History 2
  • Economy 3
  • Governance 4
    • Provincial government 4.1
    • Taranaki Regional Council 4.2
  • Māori dialect 5
  • Motion picture location 6
  • Notable people 7
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • Further reading 10
  • External links 11

Geography and people

A map showing population density in the Taranaki Region at the 2006 census

Taranaki is on the west coast of the North Island, surrounding the volcanic peak. The region has an area of 7258 km². The large bays north-west and south-west of Cape Egmont are the prosaically named North Taranaki Bight and South Taranaki Bight.

Satellite picture of Mount Taranaki, from the NASA Earth Observatory, showing the nearly-circular Egmont National Park surrounding it. New Plymouth is the grey area on the northern coast.

Mount Taranaki or Mount Egmont, the second highest mountain in the North Island, is the dominant feature of the region. A Māori legend says that Taranaki previously lived with the Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu mountains of the central North Island but fled to its current location after a battle with Tongariro. A near-perfect cone, it last erupted in the mid-18th century. The mountain and its immediate surrounds form Egmont National Park.

Māori had called the mountain Taranaki for many centuries, and Captain James Cook renamed it Egmont after the Earl of Egmont, the recently retired First Lord of the Admiralty who had encouraged his expedition. The mountain has two alternative official names, "Mount Taranaki" and "Mount Egmont".[5]

The region has a population of 115,800 (June 2015 estimate)[1] and is the 10th largest region of New Zealand by population.[3] Just under half the residents live in the city of New Plymouth. Other centres include Waitara, Inglewood, Stratford, Opunake, Okato, Kaponga, Eltham, Hawera, Patea and Waverley – the southern-most town.

The region has had a strong Māori presence for centuries. The local iwi (tribes) include Ngāti Mutunga, Ngāti Maru, Ngāti Ruanui, Taranaki, Te Āti Awa, Nga Rauru, Ngāruahinerangi and Ngāti Tama.

View of Mount Taranaki from Stratford, facing west. Fanthams Peak is to the left of the main peak. The cow in the foreground is emblematic of Taranaki as a major dairying region.

The region is exceptionally fertile, thanks to generous rainfall and the rich volcanic soil. Dairy farming predominates, with the milk factory just outside Hawera being the second largest in the Southern Hemisphere. There are also oil and gas deposits in the region, both on- and off-shore. The Maui gas field off the south-west coast has provided most of New Zealand's gas supply as well as, at one time supporting two methanol plants (one formerly a synthetic-petrol plant called the Gas-To-Gasoline plant) at Motunui. More fuel and fertiliser is produced from a well-complex at Kapuni and a number of smaller land-based oilfields. With the Maui field nearing depletion, new offshore resources have been developed: The Tui field, 50 km south of Hawera, with reserves of 50,000,000 barrels (7,900,000 m3) of oil[6] and the Pohokura gas field, 4.5 km north of Waitara.[7]

The way the land mass projects into the Tasman Sea with northerly, westerly and southerly exposures results in many excellent surfing and windsurfing locations, some of them considered world-class.

Cities and towns

Urban area Population
(June 2015 estimate)[1]
% of region
New Plymouth 56,300 48.6%
Hawera 11,750 10.1%
Waitara 6,790 5.9%
Stratford 5,610 4.8%
Inglewood 3,490 3.0%
Eltham 2,010 1.7%
Opunake 1,390 1.2%
Patea 1,150 1.0%


The area became home to a number of Māori tribes from the 13th century. From about 1823 the Māori began having contact with European whalers as well as traders who arrived by schooner to buy flax.[8] In March 1828 Richard "Dicky" Barrett (1807–47) set up a trading post at Ngamotu (present-day New Plymouth).[9] Barrett and his companions, who were armed with muskets and cannon, were welcomed by the Āti Awa tribe because of their worth assisting in their continuing wars with Waikato Māori.[9] Following a bloody encounter at Ngamotu in 1832, most of the 2000 Āti Awa [9] living near Ngamotu, as well as Barrett, migrated south to the Kapiti region and Marlborough.

In late 1839 Barrett returned to Taranaki to act as a purchasing agent for the New Zealand Company, which had already begun on-selling the land to prospective settlers in England with the expectation of securing its title. Barrett claimed to have negotiated the purchase of an area extending from Mokau to Cape Egmont, and inland to the upper reaches of the Whanganui River including Mt Taranaki. A later deed of sale included New Plymouth and all the coastal lands of North Taranaki, including Waitara.

European settlement at New Plymouth began with the arrival of the William Bryan in March 1841. European expansion beyond New Plymouth, however, was prevented by Māori opposition to selling their land, a sentiment that deepened as links strengthened with the King Movement. Tension over land ownership continued to mount, leading to the outbreak of war at Waitara in March 1860. Although the pressure for the sale of the Waitara block resulted from the colonists' hunger for land in Taranaki, the greater issue fuelling the conflict was the Government's desire to impose British administration, law and civilisation on the Māori.[10]

The war was fought by more than 3500 imperial troops brought in from Australia, as well as volunteer soldiers and militia, against Māori forces that fluctuated between a few hundred and about 1500.[11] Total losses among the imperial, volunteer and militia troops are estimated to have been 238, while Māori casualties totalled about 200.

An uneasy truce was negotiated a year later, only to be broken in April 1863 as tensions over land occupation boiled over again. A total of 5000 troops fought in the Second Taranaki War against about 1500 men, women and children. The style of warfare differed markedly from that of the 1860-61 conflict as the army systematically took possession of Māori land by driving off the inhabitants, adopting a "scorched earth" strategy of laying waste to the villages and cultivations of Māori, whether warlike or otherwise. As the troops advanced, the Government built an expanding line of redoubts, behind which settlers built homes and developed farms. The effect was a creeping confiscation of almost a million acres (4,000 km²) of land.[12]

The present main highway on the inland side of Mount Taranaki follows the path taken by the colonial forces under Major General Trevor Chute as they marched, with great difficulty, from Patea to New Plymouth in 1866.

Armed Māori resistance continued in South Taranaki until early 1869, led by the warrior Titokowaru, who reclaimed land almost as far south as Wanganui. A decade later spiritual leader Te Whiti o Rongomai, based at Parihaka, launched a campaign of passive resistance against government land confiscation, which culminated in a raid by colonial troops on November 5, 1881.

The confiscations, subsequently acknowledged by the New Zealand Government as unjust and illegal,[13] began in 1865 and soon included the entire Taranaki district. Towns including Normanby, Hawera and Carlyle (Patea) were established on land confiscated as military settlements.[14] The release of a Waitangi Tribunal report on the situation in 1996 led to some debate on the matter. In a speech to a group of psychologists, Associate Minister of Māori Affairs Tariana Turia compared the suppression of Taranaki Māori to the Holocaust, provoking a vigorous reaction[15] around New Zealand, with Prime Minister Helen Clark among those voicing criticism.


The sub-national GDP of the Taranaki region was estimated at US$4.4 billion in 2003, 3% of New Zealand's national GDP.[16]


Provincial government

From 1853 the Taranaki region was governed as the Taranaki Province (initially known as the New Plymouth Province) until the abolition of New Zealand provinces in 1876. The leading office was that of the superintendent.

The following is a list of superintendents of the Province of Taranaki during this time:

Superintendent Term
Charles Brown 1853–1857
George Cutfield 1857–1861
Charles Brown 1861–1865
Henry Robert Richmond 1865–1869
Frederic Alonzo Carrington 1869–1876

Taranaki Regional Council

The Taranaki Regional Council was formed as part of major nationwide local government reforms in November 1989, for the purpose of integrated catchment management. The regional council was the successor to the Taranaki Catchment Board, the Taranaki United Council, the Taranaki Harbours Board, and 16 small special-purpose local bodies that were abolished under the Local Government Amendment Act (No 3) 1988. The Council's headquarters were established in the central location of Stratford to "provide a good compromise in respect of overcoming traditional south vs north Taranaki community of interest conflicts" (Taranaki Regional Council, 2001 p. 6).


Māori dialect

The Māori language spoken in Taranaki replaces the sound of h (both on its own and in wh) with a break. (The sound used in adjacent Wanganui is similar but not identical.) Thus the famous elder Hina Okeroa was universally known as Ina. The name of the river flowing through New Plymouth, Waiwakaiho, would be written Waiwhakaiho (meaning "water flowing downward") in central North Island Māori.

Motion picture location

Taranaki's landscape and the mountain's supposed resemblance to Mount Fuji led it to be selected as the location for The Last Samurai, a motion picture set in 19th-century Japan. The movie starred Tom Cruise.

Notable people

See also


  1. ^ a b c For urban areas,
  2. ^ 2013 Census QuickStats about a place:New Plymouth District
  3. ^ a b 2013 Census QuickStats about a place:Taranaki Region
  4. ^ Like No Other. (2006-06-29). Retrieved on 2011-06-25.
  5. ^
  6. ^ Tui oil field. Retrieved on 2011-06-25.
  7. ^
  8. ^ Puke Ariki Museum essay
  9. ^ a b c
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ The Taranaki Report: Kaupapa Tuatahi by the Waitangi Tribunal, 1996
  13. ^ Ngati Awa Raupatu Report, chapter 10, Waitangi Tribunal, 1999.
  14. ^ , 1878, Chapter 25.The History of TaranakiB. Wells,
  15. ^ "A Taranaki Holocaust?" (2000) Downloadable Radio New Zealand broadcast
  16. ^
  17. ^

Further reading

  • J. S. Tullett (1981). The Industrious Heart: A History of New Plymouth. New Plymouth District Council
  • Belich, James (1988). The New Zealand Wars. Penguin.
  • Dick Scott (1998). Ask That Mountain ISBN 0-7900-0190-X. Reed.

External links

  • Taranaki – Like No Other: The Official Tourism website
  • Puke Ariki: Taranaki's combined museum, library and visitor information centre
  • Taranaki Tourism website with in-depth information about the region and an image library
  • Taranaki Regional Council website

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