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Taumarunui is located in New Zealand
Coordinates: 38°53.0′S 175°15.7′E / 38.8833°S 175.2617°E / -38.8833; 175.2617Coordinates: 38°53.0′S 175°15.7′E / 38.8833°S 175.2617°E / -38.8833; 175.2617
Country New Zealand
Region Manawatu-Wanganui Region
Territorial authority Ruapehu District
Population (2013)
 • Total 4,500
Area code(s) 07

Taumarunui is a town in the King Country of the central North Island of New Zealand. It is on State Highway 4 and the North Island Main Trunk Railway.

It is on an alluvial plain set within rugged terrain on the upper reaches of the Whanganui River, 65 km south of Te Kuiti and 55 km west of Turangi. Its population is 5136 (2001 census), making it the largest centre for a considerable distance in any direction.

The name Taumarunui is reported to be the dying words of the Māori chief Pehi Turoa - taumaru meaning screen and nui big, literally translated as Big Screen, being built to shelter him from the sun. There are also references to Taumarunui being known as large sheltered location for growing kumara.

In the 1980s publication Roll Back the Years there are some details on how Taumarunui got its name.[1] Extract: "According to Frank T Brown, who wrote in the Taumarunui Press in 1926, the name Taumarunui is closely connected with the arrival of and conquering of that portion of the King Country by the Whanganui River natives during the 18th century . . . The war party that succeeded in capturing the principal pa and taking prisoner the chief of the district was headed by "Ki Maru". His warriors, to show their appreciation of his prowess and the honour of the victory, acclaimed him "Tau-maru-nui", which means "Maru the Great", or "Maru the Conqueror", that name was taken for the district and has been used ever since."


Township and borough[edit]

On State Highway 4 south of Taumarunui are the villages of Manunui, Piriaka, Kakahi, Owhango, Raurimu and then National Park. To the north are the school and truck stop of Mapiu.

Taumarunui County[edit]

Taumarunui County was defined in the Waikato and King-country Counties Act 1922,[2] this statute states:

Then subsequently in 1952 the Kaitieke County and the Ohura County were amalgamated with a new Taumarunui County.

Then in 1988 the Taumarunui District Council was formed only to be replaced in 1989 as it was merged into the now Ruapehu District Council.

Community institutions[edit]

Ngapuwaiwaha Marae is on Taumarunui Street.

Taumarunui has many societies and community organizations. It has a Cosmopolitan Club and RSA, a Lodge of the Freemasons as well as Taumarunui Lodge NZ № 12 of the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes Grand Council. This Lodge of the Buffaloes was established sometime in the mid-late 1920s and thus predates the introduction of the Mighty NZR KA class steam locomotives that became the hallmark of NIMT Rail Transport of the forties, fifties and sixties.


Taitua at Taumarunui in 1885.

Taumarunui was originally a Maori settlement at the confluence of the Ongarue River with the Whanganui, important canoe routes linking the interior of the island with the lower Whanganui River settlements. Some places, notably the valley of the Pungapunga Stream, which joins the upper Wanganui near Manunui, were celebrated for the size and quality of totara, and large canoes were built there. The area is a border area between a number of iwi including Whanganui, Ngāti Maniapoto and Ngati Tuwharetoa, who lived together in relative harmony.[3]

Late in December 1843 Bishop Selwyn travelled from the district south of Taupo to a point on the Whanganui River about six miles downstream from Taumarunui and thence continued his journey to the coast by canoe. Towards the end of 1869 Te Kooti was at Taumarunui before his march through the western Taupo district to Tapapa. In the early 1880s the first surveys of the King Country commenced and by the early 1890s the Crown had begun the purchase of large areas of land.

In 1874 Alexander Bell set up a training post, and became the first European settler. The town has a road called Bell Road.

During the New Zealand Land Wars a resident named William Moffatt manufactured and supplied Maori with a coarse kind of gunpowder. He was afterwards expelled from the district. Despite warnings he returned in 1880, ostensibly to prospect for gold, and was executed.

The Whanganui River long continued to be the principal route serving Taumarunui. Traffic was at first by Maori canoe, but by the late 1880s regular steamship communication was established. Taumarunui Landing (Image) was the last stop on Alexander Hatrick's steam boat service from Wanganui. The river vessels maintained the services between Wanganui and Taumarunui until the late 1920s, when the condition of the river deteriorated.

Later Taumarunui gained importance with the completion of the North Island Main Trunk Line in 1908-09 (celebrated in a ballad by Peter Cape about the station refreshment room). The line south of Taumarunui caused considerable problems due to the terrain, and has several high viaducts and the famous Raurimu Spiral. The Stratford - Okahukura Line to Stratford connects just north of Taumarunui. In more recent times, the town's economy has been based on forestry and farming. It has gained in importance as a tourism centre, especially as an entry point for voyagers down the scenic Wanganui River and as the possessor of a high quality golf course.



  • 8/9 February 1862 - James Coutts Crawford visits, was given a number of old songs and "various accounts of the taniwha, one of whom we were told overthrew the Wangaehu bridge."[4]
  • 1869 - Te Kooti in Taumarunui.[5]
  • 1874 - Alexander Bell set up a training post, and became the first European settler.[6]
  • 1880 - Moffatt and Henaro travel to the village of Matahaura, where William Moffatt is subsequently executed.[7]
  • 1885 - Photographer Alfred Burton, artist Edward Payton[3] and surveyor John Rochford[4] tour Te Rohe Pōtae along with time in Taumarunui.[5]
  • 10 December 1885 - First post office opened in Taumarunui (under the name 'Taumaranui') as part of the Hamilton Postal District,[8] closes 1887.[9]


  • 1900 - town-to-be reportedly held only 13 European males.[10]
  • 1903 - Railway line passes through Taumarunui, and Taumarunui Railway Station opened on 1 December 1903.
  • 1904 - First European child is born in township.
  • 1904 - £10,000 houseboat built then floated to Ohura river junction. In 1927 this is transferred down river to Retaruke River junction where it was destroyed by fire in 1933.
  • 1906 - Native town council set up.
  • 14 Sep 1906 - First issue of the Taumarunui Press.
  • 1907 - First hospital erected, 5 beds.
  • 1908-09 North Island Main Trunk opened to through Auckland-Wellington trains from 9 November 1908, with the first NIMT express trains from 14 February 1909.
  • 1908–11 William Thomas Jennings elected Member of Parliament for Taumarunui electorate
  • 1910 - Kaitieke Co-op Dairy Co. formed.[11][12]
  • 1910 - George Henry Thompson defeated Rev John E. Ward (166 to 143 votes) to become the first borough council mayor.
  • 1913 - Mr. Wackrow - Mayor[13]
  • 22 Jul 1913 - First reported cases of Smallpox in district.[14]
  • 1911–14 Charles Wilson elected Member of Parliament

1914–18 - World War I

  • 1914–19 William Thomas Jennings re-elected Member of Parliament
  • 1915 - Taumarunui Hospital Board formed, 30 beds.
  • 1915 - Only a single car in town.[15]
  • 1915-1917 - Mayor: G.S. Steadman.[16]
  • 1916 - Census: 3,021 (Taumarunui & Manunui)[17]
  • 1917-1919 - Mayor: A.S. Laird.[18]
  • 1919-1923 - Mayor: G.S. Steadman.[19]
  • 1923-1925 - Mayor: C.C. Marsack.[20]
  • 1924 Piriaka Power Scheme was built to supply electricity to Taumarunui.[21]
  • 1925-1929 - Mayor: G.E. Manson.[22]
  • 1928 - Four thousand bales of wool shipped down river
  • 1929-1944 - Mayor: Cecil Boles.[23]
  • 1932 - Stratford - Okahukura Line completed.
  • 1939 - Hatricks's steamer ceased running, final section of the journey having been done by coach from Kirikau landing since 1927.

1939–1945 - World War II

Town Mayors immediately prior to 1988 include: Charles Binzegger, Les Byars and Terry Podmore.[31]

  • 1989 Nov 1 - Taumarunui District Council merged into Ruapehu District Council.[32]
  • 1991 - Census: 6,141, Full-time in labour force: 1,935
  • 1996 - Census: 5,835, Full-time in labour force: 1,438
  • 1997/98 - AFFCO Holdings freezing works closes.


Notable personalities[edit]

Students of Taumarunui High School[edit]

Born in Taumarunui[edit]


  1. ^ "How Taumarunui got its name" (PDF). Roll Back the Years. p. Page 9. Retrieved 15 March 2009. 
  2. ^ "Waikato and King-country Counties Act 1921 (12 GEO V 1921 No 64)". Nzlii.org. Retrieved 2013-10-23. 
  3. ^ "TAUMARUNUI – Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand". Teara.govt.nz. 2009-04-22. Retrieved 2013-10-23. 
  4. ^ "Recollections of travel in New Zealand and Australia : Crawford, James Coutts : Free Download & Streaming : Internet Archive". Archive.org. 2001-03-10. Retrieved 2013-10-23. 
  5. ^ "Papers Past — Colonist — 18 January 1870 — IMPORTANT FROM WAIKATO". Paperspast.natlib.govt.nz. Retrieved 2013-10-23. 
  6. ^ "The "Father of Taumarunui." | NZETC". Nzetc.victoria.ac.nz. 1932-08-01. Retrieved 2013-10-23. 
  7. ^ "Papers Past — Evening Post — 12 November 1880 — FURTHER DETAILS. [UNITED PRESS ASSOCIATION.] Wanganui, This Day". Paperspast.natlib.govt.nz. Retrieved 2013-10-23. 
  8. ^ "Taumarunui Post Office". Register of Historic Places. New Zealand Historic Places Trust. Retrieved 15 September 2013. 
  9. ^ Staff reporter - Taumarunui. "Old Post Office to Make Way for New Court House" (29 December 1966 ed.). Taumarunui: clipping. 
  10. ^ Craig 1990, 1900 p.143
  11. ^ "Farm Notes". Ohinemuri Gazette XXI (2639). 9 May 1910. p. 3. Retrieved 11 February 2013. 
  12. ^ "Kaitieke Co-op Dairy Co". Auckland Star XLIX (193). 14 August 1918. p. 6. Retrieved 11 February 2013. 
  13. ^ Retrieved: 12 July 2013
  14. ^ Retrieved: 12 July 2013
  15. ^ Craig 1990, First car p.143
  16. ^ Craig 1990, 1915-1917 p.143
  17. ^ "North Island influenza death rates | NZHistory, New Zealand history online". Nzhistory.net.nz. Retrieved 2013-10-23. 
  18. ^ Craig 1990, 1917-1919 p.143
  19. ^ Craig 1990, 1919-1923 p.143
  20. ^ Craig 1990, 1923-1925 p.143
  21. ^ Retrieved: 18 February 2011
  22. ^ Craig 1990, 1925-1929 p.143
  23. ^ Craig 1990, 1929-1944 p.143
  24. ^ Craig 1990, 1944-1947 p.143
  25. ^ Craig 1990, 1947-1953 p.143
  26. ^ "KCE celebrates 50th anniversary of Kuratau Power Station | Scoop News". Scoop.co.nz. 2012-12-10. Retrieved 2013-10-23. 
  27. ^ "Taumarunui Queen Carnival". Te Ao Hou THE MAORI MAGAZINE. Deptartment Maori and Islands Affairs. September–November 1968. Retrieved 10 June 2008. 
  28. ^ ":::King Country Energy:::". Home.xtra.co.nz. Retrieved 2013-10-23. 
  29. ^ NZPA (23 October 2008). "Chronology of fatal shootings by NZ police". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 9 October 2009. 
  30. ^ "Appendix II: Taumarunui: Farming-Community Linkages". Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (New Zealand). Retrieved 2013-10-23. 
  31. ^ Craig 1990, pre 1988 mayors p.143
  32. ^ [1][dead link]
  33. ^ "About Us at King Country Driver Training". Kingcountrydrivertraining.co.nz. Retrieved 2013-10-23. 
  34. ^ "Certificate of Incorporation : TAUMARUNUI MILK CO-OPERATIVE (1972) LIMITED : 193624". Business.govt.nz. Retrieved 2013-10-23. 
  35. ^ "KAITIEKE CO-OP. DAIRY CO.". Auckland Star XLIX (193). 14 August 1918. p. 6. Retrieved 11 February 2013. 
  36. ^ [2][dead link]
  37. ^ Dearnaley, Mathew (9 November 2009). "Line's mothballing sets off alarm bells". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 10 November 2009. 
  38. ^ "Dash to catch the last train". Manuwatu Standard. 25 June 2012. Retrieved 11 February 2013. 
  39. ^ Craig 1990, T.J. Meredith p.147
  40. ^ "James L. Beck". Its.caltech.edu. Retrieved 2013-10-23. 
  41. ^ "John Butcher's Homepage". Math.auckland.ac.nz. Retrieved 2013-10-23. 
  42. ^ "Ben Fouhy : Words". Benfouhy.com. Retrieved 2013-10-23. 
  43. ^ Dastgheib, Shabnam (9 October 2009). "Birthday girl Carmen hits town". The Dominion Post. Retrieved 16 December 2011. 
  44. ^ O'Keefe and Fox 2008, p. 249.
  45. ^ "Colourful Wellington identity Carmen dies". The Dominion Post. 15 December 2011. Retrieved 15 December 2011. 


External links[edit]