Bulls, New Zealand

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Bulls Town Hall
Bulls Town Hall
Bulls is located in New Zealand
Coordinates: 40°10′S 175°23′E / 40.167°S 175.383°E / -40.167; 175.383Coordinates: 40°10′S 175°23′E / 40.167°S 175.383°E / -40.167; 175.383
CountryNew Zealand
Territorial authorityRangitikei District
 • MayorAndy Watson
 • MPIan McKelvie
 (June 2018)[1]
 • Total1,770

Bulls is a small town near Palmerston North on the west coast of the North Island of New Zealand. It is in a fertile farming area in the Rangitikei District at the junction of State Highways 1 and 3 about 135 kilometres (84 mi) north of Wellington. According to a June 2018 Statistics New Zealand estimate, Bulls has a population of 1,770 inhabitants.[1]

Recent marketing makes puns with the name, for example, "New Zealand gets its milk from Bulls" or the sign for the local police station "Const-a-bull".


Wooden bull in Bulls

There are two recorded Māori toponyms for the area - Te Ara Taumaihi and Ō-hine-puhiawe. The origins of Te Ara Taumaihi have yet to be explicitly explored. Ō-hine-puhiawe, a land block where Parewahawaha marae is situated, acts as a synecdoche to refer to the current town area. The modern town name is named after James Bull who owned the first general store there. The town was originally called Bull Town, but this was changed to Clifton and then renamed back to Bulls at the urging of Sir William Fox.[2]

History and culture[edit]

The eastern end of the State Highway 1 bridge over the Rangitikei River south-east of the town collapsed suddenly in 1973 while being crossed by a bus. No-one was killed and the collapsed part was rebuilt.

The former Lake Alice Psychiatric hospital is 7 km (4 mi) north of Bulls, the hospital closed in 1999. Lake Alice was a large contributor to the Bulls and Marton economy.

The local Parewahawaha Marae is a traditional meeting ground for the Ngāti Raukawa hapū of Ngāti Parewahawaha.[3][4] It is on land known as Ohinepuhiawe.

The marae features the Parewahawaha meeting house, a whare tupana opened on the 15 April 1967 by Maori Queen Te Atairangikaahu. At the time it was opened, Te Rangi Pumamao was the rangatira at Parewahawaha. He had finished construction of the house, as previous builders had died.[5]

Government and politics[edit]

Local government[edit]

As part of the Rangitikei District, the current Mayor of Rangitikei since 2013 is Andy Watson.[6]

Bulls is the main town in the Southern ward of the Rangitikei District Council, which elects three of the eleven district councillors. The three councillors of the Southern ward are Brian Carter, Jane Dunn and Waru Panapa.[7] The mayor and councillors are all due for re-election in October 2022.[8]

National government[edit]

Bulls, like the rest of the Rangitikei District, is located in the general electorate of Rangitīkei and the Māori electorate of Te Tai Hauāuru.[9] Rangitīkei is a safe National Party seat since the 1938 election except for 1978–1984 when it was held by Bruce Beetham of the Social Credit Party. Since 2011 it is held by Ian McKelvie.[10]

Te Tai Hauāuru is a more unstable seat, having been held by three different parties since 1996, i.e. New Zealand First, the Māori Party and the Labour Party.[11] Since 2014 it is held by Adrian Rurawhe of the Labour Party.[12]

Military presence[edit]

Many Air Force personnel from RNZAF Base Ohakea live in Bulls. In recent years several defence houses have been sold to civilian buyers which has seen a steady decline of servicemen from the area, but a moderate presence remains nonetheless.

In 2017 it was announced that the Republic of Singapore Air Force is looking at establishing a permanent F-15 fighter jet training base at Ohakea with an estimated presence of 500 Singaporean personnel. Ohakea and surrounding areas such as Bulls and Feilding would see a significant increase in military families and personnel to the area. In December 2018 it was announced that this would no longer go ahead. [13]

In 2018 the incumbent government announced the purchase of four Boeing P-8 Poseidon aircraft for maritime surveillance. This announcement came with the news that the current New Zealand Defence Force unit responsible for maritime surveillance, No. 5 Squadron RNZAF, would be required to move to RNZAF Base Ohakea. This move would see a further increase in the number of service personnel living in the area. RNZAF is expected to take delivery of these aircraft in 2023. [14]


Primary schools[edit]

  • Clifton School is a state, co-educational primary (years 1–8) school with a decile rating of 5 and a roll of 217. It was established in 1967.[15]
  • Bulls School is a state, co-educational primary (years 1–8) school with a decile rating of 4 and a roll of 159. It was established in 1867, it is the Rangitikei's oldest school. [16]

Sister city[edit]

The town's sister city is Cowes, England.[17]

Notable people[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Subnational Population Estimates: At 30 June 2019". Statistics New Zealand. 22 October 2019. Retrieved 11 January 2020. For urban areas, "Subnational population estimates (UA, AU), by age and sex, at 30 June 1996, 2001, 2006-18 (2017 boundaries)". Statistics New Zealand. 23 October 2018. Retrieved 23 October 2018.
  2. ^ Reed, A. W. (2002). The Reed Dictionary of New Zealand Place Names. Auckland: Reed Books. ISBN 0-7900-0761-4.
  3. ^ "Te Kāhui Māngai directory". tkm.govt.nz. Te Puni Kōkiri.
  4. ^ "Māori Maps". maorimaps.com. Te Potiki National Trust.
  5. ^ "Extract from Te Ao Hou magazine about the opening of Parewahawaha Marae". Te Ao Hou. National Library of New Zealand.
  6. ^ Wallis, Anna (14 October 2013). "Watson wins Rangitikei chain". Wanganui Chroniclenzherald.co.nz. Retrieved 18 May 2016.
  7. ^ "Councillors". Rangitikei District Council.
  8. ^ "Local Electoral Act 2001". Parliamentary Counsel Office. Retrieved 18 May 2016.
  9. ^ "Find my Electorate". Electoral Commission. Retrieved 18 May 2016.
  10. ^ "Rangitīkei Electorate Profile". New Zealand Parliament. 30 September 2012. Retrieved 18 May 2016.
  11. ^ "Te Tai Hauāuru Electorate Profile". New Zealand Parliament. 30 September 2012. Archived from the original on 10 March 2016. Retrieved 18 May 2016.
  12. ^ "Rurawhe, Adrian". New Zealand Parliament. 4 December 2015. Retrieved 18 May 2016.
  13. ^ "Singapore F-15 base scrapped for Ohakea". Newsroom. 2018-12-21. Retrieved 2019-11-27.
  14. ^ "New Zealand to buy four P-8A Poseidon Maritime Patrol Aircraft". The Beehive. Retrieved 2019-11-27.
  15. ^ Counts, Education. "Ministry of Education - Education Counts". www.educationcounts.govt.nz. Retrieved 2019-11-27.
  16. ^ Counts, Education. "Ministry of Education - Education Counts". www.educationcounts.govt.nz. Retrieved 2019-11-27.
  17. ^ Easther, Elisabeth (13 December 2013). "Kia ora: Bulls". The New Zealand Herald.

External links[edit]

Media related to Bulls, New Zealand at Wikimedia Commons