Pukekohe is a town in the Auckland Region of the North Island of New Zealand. Located at the southern edge of the Auckland Region, it is approximately 50 kilometres south of Auckland City, between the southern shore of the Manukau Harbour and the mouth of the Waikato River. The hills of Pukekohe and nearby Bombay Hills form the natural southern limit of the Auckland region. Pukekohe is located within the political boundaries of the Auckland Council, following the abolition of the Franklin District Council on 1 November 2010.
Pukekohe was part of the Auckland area attacked during the musket war period 1807-1843 by Northern tribes. From the 1820s as a result of these attacks the resident Maori population who survived mainly migrated south. When European settlers arrived the remnant Maori population initially provided them with food supplies. As the number of settlers grew, the Pukekohe area, which was largely bush covered, was opened up after 1843 and individual farmers purchased small blocks of land which they cleared by hand. By 1863 the land was still bush covered but with an increasing number of small isolated farms. When Kingitanga Maori refused to swear an oath of allegiance to the crown many moved out of the area but some remained. A Maori from this area guided the first gunboats through the Waikato Heads and through the shoals of the Waikato River delta. A major battle of the 1863 Land Wars was fought at Pukekohe East between 11 armed settlers, who were converting the Pukekohe East church into a redoubt and approximately 200-300 Maori rebels,mainly from the Waikato area. Although surprised and severely outnumbered, the settlers held off the Kingitanga invaders until troops arrived. No settlers were killed or injured. 30 Maori rebels were killed with an unknown number wounded. 6 bodies were found near the church and 24 were later found hastily buried in the bush. The church still exists today and the bullet holes are still visible. Although there were many other attacks on settlers in Auckland the Maori invaders preferred isolated targets. As most women and children had been evacuated to Auckland city most of those murdered were men and teenage boys. Rebels were able to hide in the pockets of bush and live off the settlers goods and livestock. Nearly the entire Pukekohe area was abandoned to the rebels apart from Military outposts. Isolated attacks occurred as late as November 1863 after the Battle of Rangiriri.
Pukekohe is a rural service town for the area formerly known as the Franklin District. It has a population of 27,300 (June 2013 estimate), mainly of European descent, with significant Māori and ethnic Indian and East Asian communities. There are also a notable number of people of South African and Dutch descent. The population growth from 2007 to 2008 was 2.2 percent.
The fertile volcanic soil and warm moist climate supports a large horticultural and dairy farming industry. The Pukekohe long keeper onion is well known internationally.
The small community of Buckland is on the south-east side of Pukekohe, between Pukekohe and Tuakau, and adjacent to the boundary with the Waikato region. Buckland has an historical hall and a primary school.
Pukekohe Park Raceway is a motorsports and horse-racing facility. Opened in 1963, this circuit is famous for having hosted the New Zealand Grand Prix 29 times between 1963 and 2000, as well as the V8 International (a round of the V8 Supercars championship) between 2001 and 2007. The V8 Supercars event was moved to Hamilton for five years, but returned to Pukekohe in 2013.
In 2013 the film Mt. Zion was released in New Zealand, portraying Maori life in 1970's Pukekohe.
Pukekohe is on the North Island Main Trunk Railway and is the southernmost station of the Auckland suburban rail network, at the end of the Eastern and Southern Lines. Monday to Friday services are provided by Veolia Transport with off peak services being introduced in 2009. There is also a bus service provided by Waka Pacific.
- Peter (Possum) Bourne, Rallycar driver
- Simon Doull, cricket representative and radio personality
- Malietoa Tanumafili II, Samoan Head of State—educated at Wesley College
- Paul Flynn, Radio personality (ZM, Auckland)
- Emmett Clifford, Radio Personality (SubFM, Tauranga)—educated at Pukekohe High School
- Jonah Lomu, All Black—educated at Wesley College
- Bill Birch, MP—was a long-time resident
- Leslie Comrie, astronomer and pioneer in mechanical computation
- Allan Wilson, molecular biologist—grew up in the area
- Andy Dalton, resident and All Blacks captain
- Rex Mason, mayor and MP
- Ron Wai Shing, the first Chinese New Zealander to stand for Parliament.
- Madonna Harris, resident and multi-sportswoman
- The Journal of William Morgan.p78,80,83,85,89.N Morris Editor. Auckland City Council.1963.
- "Subnational Population Estimates: At 30 June 2013 (provisional)". Statistics New Zealand. 22 October 2013. Retrieved 4 November 2013. Also "Infoshare; Group: Population Estimates - DPE; Table: Estimated Resident Population for Urban Areas, at 30 June (1996+) (Annual-Jun)". Statistics New Zealand. 19 November 2013. Retrieved 28 November 2013.
- http://www.fairfaxmedia.co.nz/ad-centre/newspaper-details.dot?id=12205 Franklin County News
- "Ron Wai Shing". The New Zealand Herald. 20 February 1993. Retrieved 22 February 2012. "Profile of Ron Wai Shing, the first Chinese New Zealander to stand for Parliament. He was prompted by racism he experienced in Pukekohe in the 1960s"