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Patea is located in Taranaki Region
Coordinates: 39°45′26″S 174°28′36″E / 39.75722°S 174.47667°E / -39.75722; 174.47667Coordinates: 39°45′26″S 174°28′36″E / 39.75722°S 174.47667°E / -39.75722; 174.47667
Country New Zealand
Region Taranaki
District South Taranaki District
Population (June 2017)[1]
 • Total 1,150
Postcode(s) 4520
Aerial view
The Aotea canoe remembrance arch in Patea

Patea (/pɑːˈtɛər/ pah-TAIR) is the third-largest town in South Taranaki, New Zealand. It is on the western bank of the Patea River, 61 kilometres north-west of Whanganui on State Highway 3. Hawera is 27 km to the north-west, and Waverley 17 km to the east. The Patea River flows through the town from the north-east and into the South Taranaki Bight.[2][3] For the former electorate from 1893 to 1963 see Patea.

The population in the 2006 Census was 1143, a decrease of 159 from 2001.[4]


Patea, called Carlyle or Carlyle Beach for a time by European settlers, was originally nearer the Patea River mouth than the present town. During the New Zealand land wars Patea was an important military settlement. General Cameron's force arrived at the river mouth on 15 January 1865 and constructed redoubts on both sides of the river.

Patea became a market town when hostilities ended. The first of the sections on the present town site were sold in 1870. A local shipping company was established in 1872, and harbour improvements began. The Marton-New Plymouth railway line via Patea was completed in March 1885. The Carlyle Town Board, created about 1877 to administer town affairs, was succeeded by a borough council constituted on 13 October 1881 under the name Patea.

In the 1920s Patea was the largest cheese exporting port in the world. The Grader Cool Store received cheese for grading from all over South Taranaki and as far south as Oroua Downs near Himatangi. After grading it was loaded into coastal ships at the grader wharf for transport to Wellington where it was transhipped into overseas ships for export. The port closed in July 1959.

Patea became known in 1984 as the home of singer Dalvanius Prime and the Patea Māori Club. Their single, "Poi E", indicated renewed impetus in contemporary Māori popular music.[5] The town again came to national attention in 1982 when the main employer, the Patea Freezing Works, was closed.

Patea Freezing Works[edit]

In the early 1880s the predecessor to the Patea Freezing Works was established on the eastern bank of the Patea River. Cool stores for handling dairy produce followed in 1901 with later additions evolving into what became known as the Patea Freezing Co-Op, South Taranaki's primary employer. Strategic reforms, inefficiencies and nationwide over-processing resulted in closure in September 1982. In February 2008 the derelict buildings suffered severe fires. Damage was extensive and with the health hazard presented by asbestos insulation throughout the freezer walls, the town sought demolition.[6] As of March 2010 the site was being split into owners blocks as private property.[citation needed]

The current town[edit]

Patea has retained a strong community focus and enjoys many services including a well-resourced medical centre, public swimming pool and trust-owned rest home. The town is also the location of Aotea Utanganui - Museum of South Taranaki.

The breakwaters at Patea were started in 1878 and are being refurbished by the South Taranaki District Council.

Patea and surrounding community has a South Taranaki District Council LibraryPlus, which provides a full library service and Council-related services, including dog registration, payment of rates, and building permit enquiries. Other services include a Tot Time for the under 5s, a regular crossword morning and a book club for intermediate and high school children. The LibraryPlus has six APN computers, offering free internet and Skype.

Several kilometres east of Patea is the small community of Whenuakura, where New Zealand golfer Michael Campbell lived as a child. He learned to play golf at the Patea Golf Club, on the cliffs overlooking the Tasman Sea. He crowned his professional career by winning the U.S. Open in June 2005, and three months later the HSBC World Match Play Championship.


Patea Area School is a composite (years 1-13) school with a roll of 170.[7] Until 2005 the school was Patea High School. It became an area school when Patea Primary School closed.[8] The primary school was founded in 1875.[9]

St Joseph's School is a state integrated Catholic contributing primary (years 1-6) school with a roll of 34.[10] The school was established in January 1904.[11]

Both schools are coeducational and have a decile rating of 1.


  1. ^ "Subnational Population Estimates: At 30 June 2017 (provisional)". Statistics New Zealand. 24 October 2017. Retrieved 24 October 2017.  For urban areas, "Subnational population estimates (UA, AU), by age and sex, at 30 June 1996, 2001, 2006-16 (2017 boundary)". Statistics New Zealand. 24 October 2017. Retrieved 24 October 2017. 
  2. ^ Peter Dowling (editor) (2004), Reed New Zealand Atlas, Reed Books, map 44, ISBN 0-7900-0952-8 
  3. ^ Roger Smith, GeographX (2005), The Geographic Atlas of New Zealand, Robbie Burton, map 97, ISBN 1-877333-20-4 
  4. ^ Quickstats about Patea
  5. ^ "Interview with Syd and Hui Kahu from Patea Maori Club". 
  6. ^ n. Campbell (c. 2000). Stormbird paper.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. ^ "Te Kete Ipurangi - Patea Area School". Ministry of Education. 
  8. ^ "Education Review Report: Patea Area School". June 2006. 
  9. ^ Baker, Ngaere (1975), Patea Primary School centennial, 1875-1975 
  10. ^ "Te Kete Ipurangi - St Joseph's School, Patea". Ministry of Education. 
  11. ^ "School History". St Joseph's School. 

Further reading[edit]

  • South Taranaki District Council Heritage files (Local Government Historical Body)
  • Historical Settlements: From Whanganui to New Plymouth—N.J Taniwha—Wanganui—summary 2001 1st year 1997 subm. Political Essay—Infrastructure—Patea Freezing Works Government deregulation and asset assumption—A political agenda. National Congress Lib. Washington USA
  • Cheese Grading Store: Ian Church, Little Ships of Patea (Dunmore Press 1977); Jack Churchouse, past curator Wellington Maritime Museum.; N. Campbell, Historic papers; Ramblings with Old Nic; Stormbird's personal recollections of the port of Patea.

External links[edit]