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Otorohanga is located in New Zealand
Coordinates: 38°11′S 175°12′E / 38.183°S 175.200°E / -38.183; 175.200Coordinates: 38°11′S 175°12′E / 38.183°S 175.200°E / -38.183; 175.200
Country New Zealand
Territorial authorityOtorohanga District
 • MayorMax Baxter
 (June 2018)[1]
 • Total2,750
Time zoneUTC+12 (NZST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+13 (NZDT)
Area code(s)07

Otorohanga (Maori: "Ōtorohanga") is a north King Country town at the southern end of the Waikato region in the North Island of New Zealand. It is located 53 kilometres (33 mi) south of Hamilton and 18 kilometres (11 mi) north of Te Kuiti, on the Waipa River. It is a service town for the surrounding dairy-farming district. It is recognised as the "gateway" to the Waitomo Caves and as the "Kiwiana Town" of New Zealand. Until 2007, Otorohanga held a yearly 'Kiwiana Festival.'[2]

History and culture[edit]

Early history[edit]

In the 1860s Otorohanga was a Ngāti Maniopoto village, with whares, peach trees and a flour mill. It was abandoned after the invasion of the Waikato, except for Lewis Hettit's (or Hetet)[3] farm.[4] The area remained insecure, with Hettit's store being robbed by Te Kooti[5] in 1869,[6] but a meeting with Donald McLean later that year signalled moves towards peace.[7]

John William Ellis became postmaster and opened a store in 1885[8] with Henry Valder[9] and John Taonui Hetet.[10] In 1886 Ngāti Maniopoto built a court room for the Native Land Court[11] and from that year mail was delivered 3 times a month[12] and disputes which had delayed development[13] were settled.[14] On 9 March 1887 the railway was extended 14 mi (23 km) from Te Awamutu[15] and a 14-room[16] hotel was built, primarily for those attending the Court.[17] The sawmill, later run by Ellis and Burnand, started in 1890[18] and closed in 1912.[19]

Modern history[edit]

In the early 1900s many businesses were established by Māori, in particular John Ormsby (Hōne Ōmipi).[20] The Otorohanga Times was formed in 1912; it merged with the King Country Chronicle to form the Waitomo News in 1980.[21] McDonald’s began a limestone quarry south of Otorohanga in 1968,[22] which was bought by Graymont in 2015.[23]

Otorohanga’s population grew from 367 in 1916 to 1,569 in 1951, after which growth slowed. Although population dropped from 2,652 in 1991 and to 2,514 in 2013, the fall was much less than in the rest of King Country.[20]

Six marae are located in and around Otorohanga:

District Council[edit]

War memorials in Otorohanga
Corrugated Iron Kiwi in Otorohanga
Otorohanga district library

Otorohanga is the seat of the Otorohanga District Council. Max Baxter has been the mayor since the 2013 local elections.[26]


Otorohanga is internationally renowned for its local Kiwi House,[27] which was the first place in the world where the general public could view kiwi in captivity.[28] It recorded an average of 5,000 visitors per month in 2008.[29] The town also has a public library, a swimming complex, a supermarket, and a 24-hour McDonald's.


In 1986, the town briefly changed its name to "Harrodsville". This was a protest in support of a restaurateur, Henry Harrod of Palmerston North, who was being forced to change the name of his restaurant following the threat of lawsuits from Mohamed Al Fayed, the then owner of Harrod's department store in London.[30][31]

As a show of solidarity for Henry Harrod, and in anticipation of actions against other similar-sounding businesses, it was proposed that every business in Otorohanga change its name to "Harrods". With the support of the District Council, Otorohanga temporarily changed the town's name to Harrodsville.

After being lampooned in the British tabloids, Al Fayed dropped the legal action and Harrodsville and its shops reverted to their former names. The town's response raised widespread media interest around the world, with the BBC World Service and newspapers in Greece, Saudi Arabia, Australia and Canada covering the story.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Subnational Population Estimates: At 30 June 2018 (provisional)". Statistics New Zealand. 23 October 2018. Retrieved 23 October 2018. 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. ^ "Kiwiana Town – for all things "Kiwiana"". Kiwianatown.co.nz. Retrieved 2015-07-10.
  3. ^ "Presentation to Mr and Mrs J. T. Hetet". Waikato Times. 1906-04-14. p. 3. Retrieved 2018-03-23.
  4. ^ "Sketches in the King Country". New Zealand Herald. 1883-05-26. p. 1. Retrieved 2018-03-23.
  5. ^ "Chapter xvi. — Colonel Whitmore". nzetc.victoria.ac.nz. Retrieved 2018-03-23.
  6. ^ "Hettit's Store Plundered by Te Kooti. [from the Southern Cross, July 22.]". Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle. 1869-07-28. p. 4. Retrieved 2018-03-23.
  7. ^ "Waikato". Hawke's Bay Herald. 1869-11-19. p. 3. Retrieved 2018-03-24.
  8. ^ Cleaver, Philip (February 2011). "Maori and the Forestry, Mining, Fishing, and Tourism Industries of the Rohe Potae Inquiry District 1880-2000" (PDF). Waitangi Tribunal.
  9. ^ "Otorohanga's Past". Auckland Star. 1926-03-12. p. 12. Retrieved 2018-02-16.
  10. ^ "Presentation to Mr and Mrs J. T. Hetet". Waikato Times. 1906-04-14. p. 3. Retrieved 2018-02-16.
  11. ^ James Stuart Mitchell, Paul Husbands (November 2011). "The Native Land Court, land titles and Crown land purchasing in the Rohe Potae district, 1866-1907 A report for the Te Rohe Potae district inquiry (Wai 898)" (PDF). Waitangi Tribunal.
  12. ^ "Page 3 Advertisements Column 5". Auckland Star. 1886-09-17. p. 3. Retrieved 2018-03-23.
  13. ^ "Another Native Difficulty. Te Wetere Stops the Way. Affairs at Otorohanga". Waikato Times. 1886-07-29. p. 2. Retrieved 2018-03-23.
  14. ^ "Tee King Country". New Zealand Herald. 1886-08-02. p. 6. Retrieved 2018-03-23.
  15. ^ "Waikato Times". 1887-03-08. p. 2. Retrieved 2018-03-23.
  16. ^ "Waikato District News". New Zealand Herald. 1887-04-28. p. 6. Retrieved 2018-03-23.
  17. ^ "Page 3 Advertisements Column 5". Waikato Times. 1887-09-17. p. 3. Retrieved 2018-03-23.
  18. ^ "Country News". New Zealand Herald. 1890-10-03. p. 6. Retrieved 2018-02-16.
  19. ^ "1953 jubilee year: half a century of progress in the timber industry of New Zealand, 1903-1953. | National Library of New Zealand". natlib.govt.nz. Mccracken, A.E. Retrieved 2018-05-22.CS1 maint: others (link)
  20. ^ a b Taonga, New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage Te Manatu. "2. – King Country places – Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand". teara.govt.nz. Retrieved 2018-03-23.
  21. ^ Taonga, New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage Te Manatu. "Otorohanga Times, around 1912". teara.govt.nz. Retrieved 2018-03-23.
  22. ^ Cleaver, Philip (February 2011). "Maori and the Forestry, Mining, Fishing, and Tourism Industries of the Rohe Potae Inquiry District 1880-2000" (PDF). Waitangi Tribunal.
  23. ^ "Graymont || About Us". www.onlime.co.nz. Retrieved 2018-03-24.
  24. ^ "Te Kāhui Māngai directory". tkm.govt.nz. Te Puni Kōkiri.
  25. ^ "Māori Maps". maorimaps.com. Te Potiki National Trust.
  26. ^ Leaman, Aaron (14 October 2013). "Business as usual as Baxter takes charge". Waikato Times. Retrieved 4 July 2015.
  27. ^ Otorohanga Zoological Society Inc. "Best place to see kiwi - Otorohanga, New Zealand". Kiwihouse.org.nz. Retrieved 2015-07-10.
  28. ^ Otorohanga Zoological Society Inc. "First New Zealand Kiwi House Otorohanga NZ". Kiwihouse.org.nz. Retrieved 2015-07-10.
  29. ^ "Kiwi House Review : No. 42" (PDF). Kiwihouse.org.nz. Retrieved 2015-07-10.
  30. ^ "Chatological Humor (Updated 11.16.07)". Washingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2015-07-10.
  31. ^ "New Zealand: Small Town Shops Face Legal Action from Harrods Lawyers in London". Itnsource.com. Retrieved 2015-07-10.

External links[edit]