Otaki, New Zealand

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Otaki is located in New Zealand
Coordinates: 40°45′S 175°9′E / 40.750°S 175.150°E / -40.750; 175.150Coordinates: 40°45′S 175°9′E / 40.750°S 175.150°E / -40.750; 175.150
 • Total5,778

Otaki (officially Ōtaki) is a town in the Kapiti Coast District of the North Island of New Zealand, situated half way between the capital city Wellington, 70 km (43 mi) to the southwest, and Palmerston North, 70 km (43 mi) to the northeast. In the 2013 census the town's population was 5,778, a slight increase since the 2006 census.[1]

Otaki is located on New Zealand State Highway 1 and the North Island Main Trunk railway between Wellington and Auckland and marks the northernmost point of the Wellington Region. The construction of the Kapiti Expressway and the Transmission Gully Motorway are currently underway and will cut traveling times to Wellington.[2]

The New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage gives a translation of "place of sticking a staff into the ground" for Ōtaki.[3]


Since the early 19th century, the area has been home to Māori of the Ngāti Raukawa iwi who had migrated from the Kawhia area from about 1819, under the leadership of Te Rauparaha. They had supplanted the Rangitāne and Muaūpoko people.

At the request of Te Rauparaha, missionaries Henry Williams and Octavius Hadfield visited the area in December and Hadfield opened the first mission in the Wellington Region at Otaki.[4] At the nearby Raukawa marae is the Rangiātea Church, the original of which was completed in 1851. Burnt down in 1995, it was completely rebuilt by 2003.[5]


The community has two marae, affiliated with the iwi of Ngāti Raukawa ki te Tonga and its hapū. Te Pou o Tainui|Te Pou o Tainui Marae and Kapumanawawhiti meeting house are affiliated with the hapū of Ngāti Kapumanawawhiti. Raukawa Marae and meeting house are affiliated with the hapū of Ngāti Korokī, Ngāti Maiotaki and Ngāti Pare.[6][7]


The town is sited close to the banks of the Otaki River, 4 kilometres from its outflow into the Tasman Sea. There are recreational walks and cycling along the river and north of the mouth of the river is Otaki Beach. The safe sandy beach is popular as a swimming and fishing destination.

The surrounding district includes Te Horo and Manakau with its beach settlement at Waikawa Beach. The district is agricultural, with market gardens and lifestyle blocks. The economy of the town includes service industries for the rural community, outlet retail which is a destination for shoppers from Wellington and Palmerston North, and clean technology businesses with an emphasis on waste management. The local paper is the Otaki Mail.[8]


Otaki is home to Te Wānanga o Raukawa a Tikanga Māori university. It also hosts the annual Maoriland Film Festival and Otaki Kite Festival.[9]

Otaki Forks is the western gateway to the Tararua Forest Park. It offers recreational activities ranging from short walks, swimming, rafting and kayaking to advanced tramps of 3 – 5 days duration, including the Southern Crossing that ends at Kaitoke 45 km northeast of Wellington.

Notable people[edit]


  1. ^ City Population: Otaki (Wellington)
  2. ^ "Extra Wellington motorway lane and early finish for Kapiti Expressway on the cards". Stuff.co.nz. 2 January 2016. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
  3. ^ "1000 Māori place names". New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage. 6 August 2019.
  4. ^ "The Exploration of New Zealand. Chapter III — Missionaries, Whalers, and Traders 1830–40". Victoria University.
  5. ^ Maclean, Chris (14 November 2012). "Wellington region - Māori buildings and marae". Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 19 January 2014.
  6. ^ "Te Kāhui Māngai directory". tkm.govt.nz. Te Puni Kōkiri.
  7. ^ "Māori Maps". maorimaps.com. Te Potiki National Trust.
  8. ^ About The Otaki Mail
  9. ^ Maoriland Film Festival