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Kāeo (Māori)
Small town, big spirit
Kaeo is located in Northland Region
Coordinates: 35°6′S 173°47′E / 35.100°S 173.783°E / -35.100; 173.783Coordinates: 35°6′S 173°47′E / 35.100°S 173.783°E / -35.100; 173.783
CountryNew Zealand
RegionNorthland Region
DistrictFar North District
 • Total495

Kaeo (Māori: Kāeo) is a township in the Far North District of New Zealand, located some 22 km (14 mi) northwest of Kerikeri. The town takes its name from the kāeo or New Zealand freshwater mussel, which is found in the nearby rivers.

The 2006 New Zealand census reported a population of 495, an increase of 3 from 2001.[1]

Sanfords Fishery factory, one of the main employers in Kaeo, closed in December 2011.[2]


Pā site Pohue-nui of the Ngati Uru tribe. As seen behind an old house from the east, near SH 10, in February 2013.

Kaeo used to be a fortified village of the Ngati Uru sub-tribe. This tribe arrived in the Whangaroa Harbour as late as 1770–1775, having been driven out of the Rawhiti area of the Bay of Islands, after killing and eating Captain Marion du Fresne and his crew.[3]

Wesleydale, the first Wesleyan Methodist mission in New Zealand, was established at Kaeo in June 1823, then abandoned in 1827 after it was sacked by local Māori.[4] A memorial cairn marks the site of the mission adjacent to the cemetery on the south side of the Kaeo River.

Built on the flood plain of the Kaeo River, the town has experienced destructive flooding. It came to national attention in 2007 when it took the brunt of three major floods within the space of a few months - in February, March and July. Water flooded homes and shops and destroyed the primary school's pool complex. The local rugby clubrooms also suffered, and the club received support from the whole country as it raised funds to lift the clubrooms off the ground to minimise the risk of damage from further flooding. Landslips, fallen power lines, and road closures resulted from heavy rain in February 2008. The Northland Regional Council scheduled flood-protection work for 2008,[5] but as of 2011 it was still waiting on various consents.[6] Floods occurred as a result of Cyclone Wilma in January 2011, and 70 people had to be evacuated from Kaeo.[7]


Whangaroa College, a coeducational secondary (years 7-15) school, has a decile-rating of 1, and 77 students as of August 2018.[8]

Kaeo Primary School, a coeducational contributing primary (years 1-6) school, has a decile rating of 1[9] and a roll of 146 students as of August 2018.[8] The school dates from 1877; it moved to its current site some years later. In 1941 it became Kaeo District High School, taking both primary and secondary students. After the opening of Whangaroa College in 1969, Kaeo School became a primary school.[10]

Notable people[edit]

Famous people from Kaeo include Eric Rush, New Zealand rugby sevens player, and Heather Mansfield of The Brunettes.

Rahera Windsor (1925–2004), British Māori spiritual leader and founding member of Ngāti Rānana, was born in Pupuke near Kaeo.[11]


  1. ^ Quickstats about Kaeo
  2. ^ "66 jobs to go at Kaeo oyster plant". The Northern Advocate. 6 December 2011.
  3. ^ "The Peopling of the North". Supplement to the Journal of the Polynesian Society. 5. 1896.
  4. ^ "Wesleyan mission established". New Zealand History. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. 12 January 2018. Retrieved 21 August 2017.
  5. ^ "Call to stop town flooding a fourth time". The New Zealand Herald. 26 February 2008.
  6. ^ "Kaeo people frustrated by continual flooding". Radio New Zealand. 31 January 2011. Retrieved 3 February 2011.
  7. ^ "Wilma departs leaving big clean up". The New Zealand Herald. 29 January 2011.
  8. ^ a b "Directory of Schools - as at 13 September 2018". New Zealand Ministry of Education. Retrieved 22 September 2018.
  9. ^ Education Counts: Kaeo School
  10. ^ "Our school". Kaeo Primary School.
  11. ^ Wilson, Susan (22 June 2004). "Rahera Windsor, London Māori leader". London: The Independent.

External links[edit]