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Taharoa is located in New Zealand
38°09′03″S 174°44′01″E
Coordinates: 38°09′03″S 174°44′01″E / 38.15083°S 174.73361°E / -38.15083; 174.73361Coordinates: 38°09′03″S 174°44′01″E / 38.15083°S 174.73361°E / -38.15083; 174.73361
CountryNew Zealand
RegionWaikato Region
DistrictWaitomo District
50 m (160 ft)
(2013 census)
 • Territorial231
Time zoneUTC+12 (NZST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+13 (NZDT)

Tahāroa is a small village on the west coast of the North Island of New Zealand, to the southwest of Kawhia Harbour and overlooking Lake Taharoa.

History and culture[edit]

The plaque below the symbol reads - The Prime Minister, the Rt Hon. N E Kirk, unveiled this symbol of co-operation between New Zealand Steel Limited and the Maori people of Taharoa to mark the official opening of the Taharoa ironsands operation on November 24, 1973.

It was at times the temporary home of the great Te Rauparaha used mainly as a battle ground on the vast expanses of sand dunes evident by the number of finds over the years, by 1822 they were being forced out of their land by stronger northern tribes. Te Rauparaha then began a fighting retreat or migration southwards, one which ended with them controlling a small part of the North Island and particularly Kapiti Island, which became the tribal stronghold.

The local Āruka Marae and its Tahaaroa meeting house are a tribal meeting ground for the Maniapoto hapū of Hikairo and the Waikato Tainui hapū of Ngāti Mahuta and Ngāti Te Weehi.[1][2]

Iron sand mining[edit]

The main industrial activity is iron sand mining, run by New Zealand Steel, which began in 1972 was exporting about 1.4 Mt (1,500,000 short tons) a year, mainly to Japan, with small quantities to South Korea and China.[3] A 1993 study put reserves at 205 Mt of high concentrate and 360 Mt of lower grade sand.[4] An $80m investment in 2014 boosted potential exports to 4 Mt a year.[5]

In 2000 mining moved 2 km (1.2 mi) north, after the southern area was worked out. The roadway used for the move is now an airstrip.[6] Sand from the lake is dug by a 250 tonne cutter suction dredge, a 450 tonne floating Trommel screen removes particles larger than 2.5 mm (0.098 in), a 1,000 tonne floating concentrator removes lighter material and the denser sand is magnetically separated.[6]

1,375 tonnes an hour of sand[6] was piped 2.5 km (1.6 mi)[3] to an offshore mono-buoy,[7] which was extended a further 500m in 2012,[5] replaced in 2017[8] and is 17 m (56 ft) wide and weighs 250 tons.[9] The previous buoy was 11 m (36 ft) wide and weighed 185 tons.[6] The three bulk carriers used to transport the sand, Taharoa Destiny, Taharoa Providence[10] and Taharoa Eos,[11] require a pilot to berth at the buoy[12] and also a support boat to move ropes and pipes.[13]

The mine employs about 150 workers,[14] though only 108 were recorded as working in the whole Taharoa area in the 2013 census.[15] To house its workers, NZ Steel built 65 houses, a hall, Kōhanga Reo, school, shop, and fire and ambulance facilities in the village.[6]


Taharoa area unit has the census figures in this table.[16] Māori make up 87.9% of the population.[17]

Year Population Households Average income National average
2001 246 78 $12,500 $18,500
2006 219 72 $23,000 $24,100
2013 231 84 $28,800 $27,900


  1. ^ "Te Kāhui Māngai directory". tkm.govt.nz. Te Puni Kōkiri.
  2. ^ "Māori Maps". maorimaps.com. Te Potiki National Trust.
  3. ^ a b Tony Christie and Bob Brathwaite. "Mineral Commodity Report 15 — Iron" (PDF). MBIE.
  4. ^ Donald C. Lawton & Manfred P. Hochstein (1993). "Geophysical study of the Taharoa ironsand deposit, west coast, North Island, New Zealand Journal of Geology and Geophysics" (PDF).
  5. ^ a b "Huge ironsands expansion". Quarrying & Mining Magazine. 2014-11-11. Retrieved 2018-01-29.
  6. ^ a b c d e "Taharoa ironsand mining and ship loading". www.engineeringnz.org. Retrieved 2018-01-29.
  7. ^ "TAHAROA EXPRESS experienced a complete loss of engine power". www.nzmaritimeindex.org.nz. Retrieved 2018-01-28.
  8. ^ "TAHAROA BUOY - ShipSpotting.com - Ship Photos and Ship Tracker". www.shipspotting.com. Retrieved 2018-01-28.
  9. ^ "Heavy lift made its way from Waiwhakaiho to Port Taranaki". Stuff. Retrieved 2018-01-28.
  10. ^ "Taharoa vessels Destiny and Providence taking their time in Tasman Bay". Stuff. Retrieved 2018-01-28.
  11. ^ "Clayton Mitchell to the Minister of Transport". NZ Parliament List of Written questions. 2015. Retrieved 2018-01-28.
  12. ^ "294m ship berth shocks marine officers". NZ Herald. 2014-12-12. ISSN 1170-0777. Retrieved 2018-01-28.
  13. ^ John Ingram, et. al. (May 1974). "Symposium on Taharoa ironsands project" (PDF). New Zealand Engineering.
  14. ^ "Jobs go as part of Taharoa iron sands mine is shut down". Stuff. Retrieved 2018-01-28.
  15. ^ "SNZ Commuter View". archive.stats.govt.nz. Retrieved 2018-01-29.
  16. ^ "2013 Census map – QuickStats about a place". archive.stats.govt.nz. Retrieved 2018-01-29.
  17. ^ Quickstats about Taharoa

External links[edit]