Waiuku is a country town in the Auckland Region in the North Island of New Zealand. It is located at the southern end of the Waiuku River, which is an estuarial arm of the Manukau Harbour. It is 40 kilometres southwest of Auckland city centre, and 12 kilometres north of the mouth of the Waikato River.
It was part of the Franklin District prior to it being abolished in 2010. Most of the town is now within the boundaries of Auckland Council, with the balance in the area of Waikato District Council.
The Māori name Waiuku comes from a legend that two prominent brothers, Tamakae and Tamakou, vied for the hand of a beautiful high-ranking Waikato chieftainess. Tamakae was the cultivator, provider and Tamakou the orator. Tamakou was the first to meet her, but she requested that Tamakae be presented to her. He was working in the kumara gardens and had to be washed in the wai (water) and uku (a particular type of mud) at the stream that flows into the Manukau Harbour just behind the Waiuku Museum, before he was able to meet her. Tamakae won her heart and married her. From then the place was named Waiuku.
Waiuku came into existence as a port in about 1843, on the then important trade route between Auckland and the agricultural area of the Waikato. It was also the terminal of an ancient Maori portage between the Waikato River and the Manukau Harbour. Waiuku was marked out by the Government as a town in 1851. During the Waikato War (1863–64), Waiuku became a frontier stockade guarded by a blockhouse. The Waikato War ended the traffic responsible for the early development of the town as a trading post. Waiuku later grew as a farming centre under road board administration, and in 1914 became a town district. It was constituted a borough in 1955, and subsequently amalgamated into the Franklin District Council [in 1988]. A major development for the town was the Government sponsored establishment, from the mid-1960s, of New Zealand's first steel plant at Glenbrook to convert ironsand brought from the black sand deposits at Waikato Heads into steel. After many changes of ownership and name, the company has returned to being called New Zealand Steel and is a division of Bluescope Steel of Australia. The company continues to be a major employer in and influence on the town.
The local pub, called The Kentish Hotel, is New Zealand's longest continuously licensed hotel. It was built by one of the first European settlers in Waiuku, Edward Constable, as an inn in 1851. His presence can still be felt in the name of the pub (he was from Kent), and the street behind it - Constable Road. The Kentish, with its ornate verandahs, provides a historical centre point to the town and the nearby Tamakae Reserve.
At the entrance to the Reserve stands a striking statue of Tamakae carved from swamp kauri logs. The logs were found during some excavation work at New Zealand Steel and gifted to the local iwi (tribe), Ngati Te Ata. The Reserve also has a small historic “village” with several restored buildings including Hartmann House, dating back to 1886, now operating as a local craft studio, Pollock Cottage (1890), Waiuku Jail (1865) and The Creamery (1890s). The nearby Waiuku Museum has colonial era memorabilia, Māori artifacts, old sailing boats and historic photographs. A heritage trail around town points out further sites of historic interest in Waiuku including Wesley Methodist Church (1883), from where visitors to the town can get a panoramic view across Waiuku and the waterfront reserve.
Several cafes and restaurants are now open at the weekends. An increasing number of Waiuku shops are opening longer on Saturdays and many on Sundays too with a wide range from boutique fashion stores to antique and artifact stores, a traditional butcher/fishmonger, hardware store, handmade solid furniture store and even a macadamia “chocolatier and ice-cream” maker. A “veggie and craft” market runs on the first and 3rd Saturday of each month (9am-2pm).
There are many schools in the area around Waiuku, including Waiuku College (the local secondary school), Aka Aka Primary School, Glenbrook School, Sandspit Road Primary School, Waiuku Primary School and Pukeoware Primary School and Waipipi School.
According to the 2006 census, 6,087 people usually live in Waiuku. This is an increase of 609 people, or 11.1 percent, since the 2001 Census. There were 2,244 occupied dwellings in Waiuku.
In 2006, 24.2 percent of people are aged under 15 years in Waiuku, compared with 22.1 percent for all of Auckland Region. In 2001, 26.5% of people in Waiuku were under the age of 15 years compared with 22.7% for all of New Zealand.
In 2006, 13.5% of people in Waiuku are aged 65 years and over, compared with 9.9% of the total Auckland Region population. This compared with 2001 when 11.4% of people in Waiuku were aged 65 years and over compared with 12.1% for all of New Zealand.
In 2006, 34.5% of people aged 15 years and over in Waiuku had a post-school qualification, compared with 42.5% of people throughout Auckland Region. In Waiuku, 31.0% of people aged 15 years and over had no formal qualifications, compared with 20.3% for Auckland Region as a whole. This compares with 2001, when 26.6% of people aged 15 years and over in Waiuku had a post-school qualification, compared with 32.2% for New Zealand as a whole
According to the 2006 Census, the Waiuku population's ethic origin was 75.6% European; 17.7% Māori; 3.6% Pacific peoples; 3.6% Asian; 0.3% Middle Eastern/Latin American/African; and 11.0% other ethnicity. In the Auckland Region, the 2006 census split ethnicity as follows: European 56.5%; Māori 11.1%; Pacific peoples 14.4%; Asian 18.9%; Middle Eastern/Latin American/African 1.5%; and other ethnicity 8.1%. By contrast, in 2001, 86.2% of people in Waiuku said they belong to the European ethnic group, compared with 80.1% for all of New Zealand.
In terms of birthplace 20.7% of people in Waiuku were born overseas, compared with 37.0% for Auckland Region as a whole. For people born overseas living in Waiuku in 2006, the most common birthplace was the UK and Ireland, compared with Asia for all of Auckland Region.
English is the most commonly spoken language in Waiuku, spoken by virtually the entire population. According to the 2006 census, 3.6% of people in Waiuku speak Māori, compared with 2.7% of people for all of Auckland Region. New Zealand Sign Language is used by 0.4% of people in Waiuku, compared with 0.6% of people for all of Auckland Region. 87.6% of people in Waiuku speak only one language, compared with 70.7% of people for all of Auckland Region.
According to the 2006 census, for people aged 15 years and over, the median income (half earn more, and half less, than this amount) in Waiuku was $24,500. This compares with a median of $26,800 for all of Auckland Region. 42.4 percent of people aged 15 years and over in Waiuku had an annual income of $20,000 or less, compared with 40.9 percent of people for Auckland Region as a whole. In Waiuku, 21.3 percent of people aged 15 years and over had an annual income of more than $50,000, compared with 21.6 percent of people in Auckland Region. In 2001, The median income of people in Waiuku was $19,200, compared with $18,500 for all of New Zealand.
In the 2006 census, the unemployment rate in Waiuku is 5.0 percent for people aged 15 years and over, compared with 5.6 percent for all of Auckland Region. The most common occupational group in Waiuku was 'Technicians and trades workers' and 'Professionals' is the most common occupational group in Auckland Region. By comparison, in 2001, the unemployment rate in Waiuku was 6.4 percent, compared with 7.5 percent for all of New Zealand.
In 2006, 29.3% of people aged 15 years and over living in Waiuku had never married, 49.7% were married, and 20.9% were separated, divorced or widowed. 32.3% of people aged 15 years and over in Waiuku who have never married, live with a partner.Couples with children made up 42.4% of all families in Waiuku, while couples without children made up 37.4% of all families. In Auckland Region, couples with children make up 46.3% of all families, while couples without children make up 34.8 percent of all families. 20.2% of families in Waiuku are one-parent-with-children families, compared with 18.9% of families for Auckland Region as a whole.
In Waiuku, according to the 2006 census, 64.8% of households in private occupied dwellings own the dwelling, with or without a mortgage. For Auckland Region as a whole, 50.7% of households in private occupied dwellings own the dwelling, with or without a mortgage.
According to the 2006 census, 88.% of Waiuku households have a telephone, compared to 92.6% of people in the Auckland region. 57.4 percent of households in Waiuku have access to the Internet, compared with 65.5 percent of households throughout Auckland Region. In Waiuku 76.6 percent of households have access to a cellphone, compared with 76.4 percent of households for Auckland Region as a whole.
16.0% of households in Waiuku have access to three or more motor vehicles, compared with 17.7% of all households in Auckland Region.
The local Iwi of Waiuku or Mana Whenua of Waiuku are Te Iwi o Ngati Te Ata Waiohua.
Waiuku is the hometown of Waikato Chiefs rugby teams star kicker Stephen Donald. He played his first game for the All-Blacks against England on 14 June 2008, becoming the first All-Black ever to have attended Waiuku College. On 23 October 2011, Stephen kicked a penalty for New Zealand to win the Rugby World Cup 8 - 7 against France at Eden Park. Though born in Papakura on 3 December 1983, Stephen attended Sandspit Primary School in Waiuku then four years at Waiuku College where his father is a long-serving teacher, before spending his seventh form at Wesley College. In honour of his contribution to winning the world cup, Waiuku named their local rugby club ground Beaver Park.
Waiuku was also the birthplace of rugby legend and former All Black Zinzan Brooke, but he attended Mahurangi College. Noted all Blacks Kevin Skinner and Pat Walsh were already accomplished adult players when they joined Waiuku.
Emeritus Professor James Boyer Brown AM dubbed "Mr Oestrogen" for his work at Edinburgh and Melbourne universities was born in Waiuku on 7 October 1919. Jim, who was part of the think tank led by American biologist and researcher Gregory Pincus that developed the first reliable hormonal contraceptive, the pill, was later a member of the in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) team led by Professor Carl Wood, where he provided the expertise for the timing of the egg pick-up. Jim, who joined Professor Lance Townsend's department of obstetrics and gynaecology at Melbourne University in 1962, revolutionised the use of gonadtrophins for the safe induction of ovulation by monitoring ovarian response. This all but eliminated the risk of high order multiple pregnancies. Jim was appointed an Honorary Member of the Order of Australia in 2003 for service to medical science, particularly clinical research into women's health and reproductive issues and the development of the Home Ovarian Monitor.
Elsie Locke, then named Elsie Violet Farrelly, was born in Waiuku, New Zealand on 17 August 1912. She attended Waiuku District High School from 1925 until 1929, where she was the sole student in her class during her final two years. She was widely known as a peace activist and historian but she was also a groundbreaking and successful author of children’s literature. Her literary reputation rests primarily on her historical novels set in New Zealand’s colonial past, many of which have been reprinted. Attending university during the Depression, she associated with many of New Zealand’s emerging literary figures. She also became a socialist because of her experiences and observations of poverty at this time. Her son is Keith Locke, a Green Party MP.
David Aspin competed in the freestyle wrestling discipline, and was the 1974 Commonwealth Games champion and 1970 Commonwealth Games bronze medalist, in the middleweight category. He was also New Zealand's flag bearer at the opening ceremonies of the 1972 Summer Olympics, in Munich, and of the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal.
Air Vice-Marshal F. H. M. Maynard, CB, AFC, Legion of Merit (US); RAF (retd.); England; was born in Waiuku,on 1 May 1893. He joined the Royal Naval Air Service in 1915 and served in France and United Kingdom in First World War in RNAS and RAF. He was AOC RAF, Mediterranean, 26 Jan 1940 – 1 Jun 1941; Air Officer in Charge of Administration, RAF Coastal Command, 1941–44; AOC No. 19 Group, Coastal Command, 1944–45.
One of the founders of St Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Waiuku in the 19th century was Captain Sir John Makgill. Makgill arrived with his family in Waiuku in 1882 and established a farm called 'Brackmont' at Taurangaruru. He eventually increased his holdings there to about 2500 acres, and also bought land at Orua Bay. Sir John Makgill died at Brackmont on 14 November 1906. His wife was Margaret Isabella Haldane, sister of Lord Haldane, and their eldest son was George Makgill who spent most of his adult life in Scotland, becoming 11th Baronet of Makgill on his father's death. One other son John E Makgill continued to farm at Taurangaruru, while another Robert Haldane Makgill was a key figure in the development of New Zealand's public health system. He was one of the country's first district health officers, at a time when central government took on greater responsibility for public health. He was to play an important role during the 1918 influenza pandemic and its aftermath, notably as ‘the chief architect’ of the ‘the most useful legacy of the 1918 influenza pandemic’: the 1920 Health Act.
[See: 'Late Sir G. Makgill: Formerly of Waiuku', Waiuku News, 26/10/1926, p. 2; 'Coming to Waiuku', Barnacle Bulletin, April 1995, [p. 9]; Heather Makgill and Val Loh, The Pioneering Baronet: Makgill Family Reunion 2000, Waiuku, 2000; 'The Makgills of Taurangaruru and Orua Bay', Peninsularama, no. 165, May 2000, pp. 20-1]
Waiuku is the hometown of Stumpy Holmes, a national rally car driver.
Ross Ihaka is an Associate Professor of Statistics at the University of Auckland who is recognized as co-founder of the R programming language. He received the Royal Society of New Zealand's Pickering Medal in 2008 for his work on R. R is used by an estimated 250,000 people on a regular basis 
- "Waiuku Travel Guide". Jasons Travel Media.
- "Pukeoware School". Retrieved 31 August 2010.
- James Ihaka and Vaimoana Tapaleao (29 October 2011). "Beaver fever in All Black Donald's hometown". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 1 December 2011.
- Thomas, Adrian; Family, Brown (21 December 2009). "Pioneer in measurement of oestrogen production". Melbourne: theage.com.au. Retrieved 2010-09-29.
- Vance, Ashlee (7 January 2009). "Data Analysts Captivated by R's Power". The New York Times.
- Waiukufamilies.org.nz - General information about Waiuku
- Historic West
- Pictures of waiuku
- Realtime Waiuku weather
- Waiuku attractions
- New Zealand Historic Places Trust