From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Waikato River passing through Ngāruawāhia
Waikato River passing through Ngāruawāhia
Population (2006 census)
 • Territorial 5,106
 • Urban 224,000
Time zone NZST (UTC+12)
 • Summer (DST) NZDT (UTC+13)

Ngāruawāhia (Māori pronunciation: [ŋaːɾʉaˈwaːhia]) (pop. 5,106[1]) is a town in the Waikato region of the North Island of New Zealand. It is located 20 km north-west of Hamilton at the confluence of the Waikato and Waipa Rivers, adjacent to the Hakarimata Range. Ngāruawāhia lies within the Hamilton Urban Area, the fourth largest urban area in New Zealand. The location was once considered as a potential capital of New Zealand.[2]

Name origin[edit]

One of the few surviving examples of Ngaruawahia's previous name is the old Newcastle Butchery building, c.1921.

The name Ngāruawāhia means "the opened food pits", which derives from a great feast in the 17th century. Te Ngaere, a Ngāti Tamainupō chief, and Heke-i-te-rangi, a Ngāti Maniapoto woman, had eloped and settled at Ngāruawāhia, causing a rift between their tribes. When their first child was born, Ngāti Maniapoto were invited to the celebration in an attempt to reconcile the tribes. Te Ngaere's father named the boy Te Mana-o-te-rangi in honour of Ngāti Maniapoto. Peace was established between the tribes, and Te Ngaere shouted "Wāhia ngā rua" (break open the food pits).[3][4][5]


After the invasion of the Waikato in 1863 by British imperial forces, the town was renamed Newcastle, but eventually reverted to being named Ngaruawahia. Officers from the United States visited Ngaruawahia during World War II and would share food at Hāngis.[6] Queen Elizabeth II has visited Ngaruawahia on two occasions (1953 & 1974).[7] On the latter occasion, then Māori Queen Dame Te Ātairangikaahu and her husband Whatumoana Paki welcomed Queen Elizabeth II to the local marae.[8] The Great Ngaruawahia Music Festival was held in 1973, and featured many music acts, including some that went on to become internationally famous such as Black Sabbath and Split Enz.[9] It was the first large outdoor music festival in New Zealand. A train derailed on 14 March 1998 after a load moved in transit and then struck a through-truck bridge. The wagons piled high on the superstructure of the Waikato River bridge, and there was major damage to the bridge.[10][11] Ngaruawahia celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2013 [12] coincidentally during the same year that Ngaruawahia High School (which opened a century later in 1963) celebrated its 50th.

In May 2016, Heather du Plessis-Allan (an NZME broadcaster) claimed that the "town is rotting".[13] The broadcaster later accepted a challenge to visit the town[14] and an article relating to the incident appeared on a Waikato Times front page.[15] According to Waikato District Mayor Allan Sanson, du Plessis-Allan "really upset locals".[16] In June 2016, local mayor Allan Sanson said du Plessis-Allan spent around three hours in the town, apologizing to residents.[17]


The flag hoisted at Ngāruawāhia on the proclamation of Pōtatau Te Wherowhero as the first Māori King, drawn 1863.

Ngāruawāhia is home to the Māori Kīngitanga or King Movement. The first Māori King, Pōtatau Te Wherowhero, was crowned at Ngāruawāhia in April, 1857, and was living there when he died three years later.[18] The current Māori King is Tuheitia Paki who obtained the throne at Turangawaewae Marae immediately following his mother's passing in 2006.[19]

Sport and recreation[edit]

Football (soccer)[edit]

Ngaruawahia United, known as "The Green Machine", is the local football (soccer) club, founded in 1968. As of 2009, it comprised sixteen junior sides, three senior sides and a women's team. Ngaruawahia United has their A team in the Lotto Sport Italia NRFL Division 2, their B team in the Federation League and their C team in the Waikato League. The women's team competes in their Waikato B Division.

Ngaruawahia will again host Waikato FC of the New Zealand Football Championship for the 2009-10 New Zealand Football Championship season. Waikato FC will play their matches at Centennial Park.

Rugby league[edit]

The Ngaruawahia Rugby League Club is the oldest such club in the Waikato. Early games were played on varying venues, for instance Taupiri paddock and Paterson Park. The first major match for the town was held in August 1911 when they lost to Auckland 22 - 36 at the Caledonian Ground in Frankton. Ngaruawahia did however beat Hamilton United 27 - 4 in the first ever Northern Union game to be played at Hamilton's Steele Park in 1912. The senior team were Champion of Champions in 1956 and 1957.[20]

Ngaruawahia is the home of the rugby league team Turangawaewae RLC, which is named after the marae opposite the clubrooms. The club currently holds the record for the first team to win consecutive titles in the annual Waicoa Bay Premiers Competition, consisting of all teams in the Waikato, Coast and Bay Of Plenty regions.[citation needed] Ngaruawahia Rugby League Club (Panthers) are 2011 champions, Premiers, U17, U14, U13 are all champions.

Christian Youth Camps[edit]

A gun turret of the paddle-steamer gunboat Pioneer, now mounted near the Waikato River.

On the northern side of the Waipa River is the Christian Youth Camps (CYC), the largest youth camp site in New Zealand. CYC started in the early 1960s, with large Easter conventions. Today there are two separate camp sites on 38 hectares of land. The camp offers school holiday camps throughout the year. During the terms, the camps are used by various groups, including schools, churches and sporting organisations.


Ngaruawahia is known for its local regatta, a traditional preservance of New Zealand's history and Māori culture. An event is held every year in March on the Waikato River.[21] The first regatta was an unofficial event in 1892, involving both Māori and Pākehā festivities. The regatta provided a means of association between two ethnic groups, socially and culturally. The first official regatta took place in 1896 and since then has grown to become one of New Zealand's largest aquatic festivals.[22]

Former residents[edit]

See also[edit]


Coordinates: 37°40′S 175°9′E / 37.667°S 175.150°E / -37.667; 175.150