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For Karitane Home, see Plunket Society.
Karitane is located in New Zealand
Location of Karitane within New Zealand
Coordinates: 45°39′S 170°40′E / 45.650°S 170.667°E / -45.650; 170.667Coordinates: 45°39′S 170°40′E / 45.650°S 170.667°E / -45.650; 170.667
Country New Zealand
Region Otago
Territorial authority Dunedin City Council
Population (2006 census)[1]
 • Urban Area 345
Time zone NZST (UTC+12)
 • Summer (DST) NZDT (UTC+13)

The seaside settlement of Karitane is located within the limits of the city of Dunedin in New Zealand, 35 kilometres to the north of the city centre.

Set in rolling country near the mouth of the Waikouaiti River, the town is a popular holiday retreat for Dunedinites.

Close to the settlement is the site of Huriawa , which was a major fortification in pre-European New Zealand set in a strong position on a rocky promontory above the coast.

Karitane, Plunket and Truby King[edit]

The name Karitane is often associated by older New Zealanders[citation needed] with pioneering paediatrician and psychiatrist Sir Truby King, founder of the Plunket Society. Karitane's name is echoed in many New Zealand child-related services and products:

  • Plunket set up a string of neonatal care institutions known throughout the country as Karitane Hospitals, starting here in Truby King's house, Kingscliff[2][3]
  • A type of infant formula, Karicare, now made by Nutricia, as well as earlier brands Karilac and Kariol made by the Karitane Products Society are named after the town[3][4]
  • Karitane Nurse (historically) a type of nurse in New Zealand specialising in infant care[3]
  • Community Karitane, a type of community worker in New Zealand advising on parenting issues such as breastfeeding, nutrition, sleep and behaviour[5]
  • Karitane yellow, an informal name for a (baby-excrement-coloured) unpleasant shade of yellow[6]

Truby King also worked at nearby Seacliff Lunatic Asylum.


Waikouaiti River estuary at Karitane; fishing wharf and channel to the Pacific Ocean at right, Matanaka headland at left background.

The site of the present settlement of Karitane includes that of the pre-European Māori kaik, or undefended village. Giant moas were likely to be hunted in the area.[7] It also encompasses Huriawa on the adjacent peninsula, a Pa or fortified village, recalled in oral tradition for sieges in the late 17th or early 18th centuries. It is also the site of the whaling station set up by Long, Wright and Richards in 1837. That was known as Waikouaiti, but the name later became transferred to the present township of that name established by Johnny Jones as a farming settlement in 1840, on the north side of the estuary.

In 1838 Jones acquired the Karitane whaling station, primarily targeting southern rights and humpbacks, resulting in severe depletion of local populations for these species. After sending pioneers to start his farming settlement he sent a Wesleyan missionary to join them in May 1840, James Watkin, the first in the South Island. However Watkin set up his mission station at Karitane. He was living there with his wife and children in a purpose-built house by late 1842. In 1867 George O'Brien painted a memorable view looking north from the Karitane waterfront, now in the Otago Settlers Museum, Dunedin.



  1. ^ Quickstats about Karitane
  2. ^ Nigel Benson, "Seacliff asylum's painful and haunting history" Otago Daily Times, Dunedin 27 January 2007
  3. ^ a b c Jim Sullivan I was a Plunket baby 2007 Random House New Zealand
  4. ^ Nutricia website
  5. ^ Career Services website
  6. ^ A Dictionary of Maori words in New Zealand English, Oxford University Press, Melbourne 2005
  7. ^ Teviotdale D. (1932). "The material culture of the Moa-hunters in Murihiku. - 2. EVIDENCE OF ZOOLOGY.". The Journal of Polynesian Society Volume 41, No. 162. pp. 81–120. Retrieved 2015-02-03.