Coordinates: 39°40.6′S 175°47.8′E / 39.6767°S 175.7967°E / -39.6767; 175.7967
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Coordinates: 39°40.6′S 175°47.8′E / 39.6767°S 175.7967°E / -39.6767; 175.7967
CountryNew Zealand
DistrictRangitikei District
  • Northern General Ward
  • Tiikeitia ki Uta (Inland) Māori Ward
CommunityTaihape Community
Early settlementpre-European
Named forShortened form of Ōtaihape.
 • Territorial AuthorityRangitikei District Council
 • Regional councilHorizons Regional Council
 • Total4.93 km2 (1.90 sq mi)
 (June 2023)[2]
 • Total1,800
 • Density370/km2 (950/sq mi)
Area code06
Town hall

Taihape is in the Rangitikei District of the North Island of New Zealand. It serves a large rural community. State Highway 1, which runs North to South through the centre of the North Island, passes through the town.

History and culture[edit]

Early history[edit]

The Taihape region was originally inhabited by Māori. These iwi (tribes) still live in the area. The first record of a European to the region is William Colenso's visit in 1845. In 1884, the surveyor's party for the Main Trunk railway line cut a rough track through the district.

The town was founded in 1894, when European settlers arrived from Canterbury in the South Island. The site of the town was a small natural clearing in dense native bush, which the first settlers set about clearing. Many of the original families have descendants still living in the area. The settlement was first called Hautapu after the local river, then Otaihape ("the place of Tai the Hunchback"), and finally Taihape.[3]

Before the establishment of the railway, the bulk of farming produce (wool) had to be transported east by horse and bullock cart to Napier, from where it was exported. Until the establishment of roads and railways in the early 1900s, Taihape, like other rural towns, remained largely an isolated pioneer settlement.

Recent history[edit]

Taihape developed as a key railway and transport town, reaching its peak of population and activity during the heyday of the 1950s and 1960s. The town declined during the downturn of the 1980s and today it is largely a refreshment stop for travellers and a service point for the local farming community.

Taihape is home of the annual Gumboot Day, first celebrated on 9 April 1985. This festival was devised by local business people who decided to capitalise on its rural image. Taihape's association with gumboots is marked by a large sculpture of a gumboot positioned prominently on the edge of town. Local business owners commissioned the New Zealand sculptor Jeff Thomson to produce the oversized gumboot using his signature material, corrugated iron.[4] Entertainer John Clarke used Taihape as a location for his Fred Dagg comedy persona.


There are five marae in the Taihape area, where local iwi and hapū meet:

In October 2020, the Government committed $836,930 from the Provincial Growth Fund to upgrade a cluster of 7 marae, including Opaea Marae and Raketapauma Marae, creating 95 jobs. It also committed a further $239,367 towards Raketapauma Marae and another marae, creating 34 jobs.[5]


Taihape is a rural supply town and at its peak during the 1960s, was the main railway and transport hub for the surrounding farming community. Much of its economic activity revolved around the railway and rural communities. A major decline occurred in the 1980s due to a restructure and electrification of the railway system and a general downturn in the farming sector.

In recent years and with the advent of major tourist attractions, Taihape is now experiencing an upturn in local commerce. Its location on the North Island Main Trunk railway and on State Highway 1 has ensured its economic survival. Taihape's main claim to fame is as the "Gumboot Capital of the World", and it attracts large numbers of people to the annual gumboot-throwing contest.


Taihape is near the confluence of the Hautapu and Rangitikei rivers about 500 m (1500 ft) above sea level. It lies in a sheltered valley among the high country of the central North Island, close to the Rangitikei River and the Ruahine Ranges. It is surrounded by fertile high country ideal for sheep and deer farming and its location close to the mountains, rivers and lakes has made it an important service hub for hunting and outdoor tourism. The town is located at the southern edge of the volcanic plateau.

Transport routes in and out of Taihape have improved over the years and what were once twisting and treacherous roads through the high country are now easy and fast deviations through the hills to Mangaweka in the south and Waiouru to the north. Taihape's climate is temperate. There is significant rainfall throughout the year in Taihape. According to the Köppen climate classification, this climate is classified as oceanic climate (Cfb). The average annual temperature is 11.5 °C and about 953 mm of precipitation falls annually.[6]

Climate data for Taihape
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 21.6
Daily mean °C (°F) 16.4
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) 11.3
Average rainfall mm (inches) 78
Source: Climate-data.org[6]


Taihape covers 4.93 km2 (1.90 sq mi)[1] and had an estimated population of 1,800 as of June 2023,[2] with a population density of 365 people per km2. Population peaked at around 3,500 in the late 1960s, but declined in parallel with many other rural towns after that time.

Historical population
YearPop.±% p.a.
Source: [7]

Taihape had a population of 1,716 at the 2018 New Zealand census, an increase of 141 people (9.0%) since the 2013 census, and a decrease of 123 people (−6.7%) since the 2006 census. There were 684 households, comprising 855 males and 861 females, giving a sex ratio of 0.99 males per female. The median age was 40.2 years (compared with 37.4 years nationally), with 369 people (21.5%) aged under 15 years, 297 (17.3%) aged 15 to 29, 741 (43.2%) aged 30 to 64, and 309 (18.0%) aged 65 or older.

Ethnicities were 69.1% European/Pākehā, 47.9% Māori, 4.4% Pacific peoples, 3.7% Asian, and 1.2% other ethnicities. People may identify with more than one ethnicity.

The percentage of people born overseas was 10.1, compared with 27.1% nationally.

Although some people chose not to answer the census's question about religious affiliation, 45.1% had no religion, 37.9% were Christian, 5.4% had Māori religious beliefs, 0.3% were Hindu, 0.5% were Muslim, 0.2% were Buddhist and 0.9% had other religions.

Of those at least 15 years old, 117 (8.7%) people had a bachelor's or higher degree, and 369 (27.4%) people had no formal qualifications. The median income was $27,100, compared with $31,800 nationally. 144 people (10.7%) earned over $70,000 compared to 17.2% nationally. The employment status of those at least 15 was that 684 (50.8%) people were employed full-time, 243 (18.0%) were part-time, and 24 (1.8%) were unemployed.[7][2]


Taihape Railway Station was an important railway stop on the North Island Main Trunk line, with a marshalling yard and locomotive depot until the late 1970s.

Taihape Rail Stop and goods shed

There were many railway houses situated along the length of Mataroa Road; now only three remain. At one time Taihape had two lodges of the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes. One of the lodges was named Kaikoura Lodge No 226 (after the local Kaikoura River) this lodge survived until 2007. The lodge once had its own lodge rooms. The former railways house painted purple located on the highway travelling south into Taihape was once one of the two Buffaloes halls. The lodge in Taihape once boasted a large membership due in part to the numbers of Railways and Post Office staff stationed in the town.

In 1999 Tranz Rail demolished the historic Taihape Railway Station.[8] The Refreshment Rooms still stand on the former station platform, as do the old goods shed and locomotive depot compound at the south end of the rail yard. After a long period of fund-raising by Rotary, a loco turntable was re-purchased and installed in the station yard, so that special trains can run to Taihape and turn around for the return run.

Government and politics[edit]

Local politics[edit]

As part of the Rangitikei District, the current Mayor of Rangitikei since 2013 is Andy Watson.[9]

Taihape is the main town in the Taihape ward of the Rangitikei District Council, which elects three of the eleven district councillors. The three councillors of the Taihape ward are Richard Aslett, Angus Gordon and Ruth Rainey.[10] The mayor and councillors are all due for re-election in October 2016.[11]

National government[edit]

Taihape, like the rest of the Rangitikei District, is located in the general electorate of Rangitīkei and in the Māori electorate of Te Tai Hauāuru.[12] Rangitīkei is a safe National Party seat since the 1938 election with the exception of 1978–1984 when it was held by Bruce Beetham of the Social Credit Party. Since 2011 it is held by Ian McKelvie.[13]

Te Tai Hauāuru is a more unstable seat, having been held by three different parties since 1996, i.e. New Zealand First, the Māori Party and the Labour Party.[14] Since 2014 it is held by Adrian Rurawhe of the Labour Party.[15]


Taihape Area School is a co-educational state area school for Year 1 to 13 students,[16][17] with a roll of 247 as of April 2023.[18] The school was established in 2005 through the amalgamation of Taihape's primary and secondary schools due to the declining rolls at both schools.[19]

St Joseph's School, also located in Taihape, is a co-educational state-integrated Catholic primary school for Year 1 to 8 students.[20] with a roll of 104.[21] The school was established in 1916.[22]

Notable people[edit]


  1. ^ a b "ArcGIS Web Application". statsnz.maps.arcgis.com. Retrieved 10 April 2023.
  2. ^ a b c "Subnational population estimates (RC, SA2), by age and sex, at 30 June 1996-2023 (2023 boundaries)". Statistics New Zealand. Retrieved 25 October 2023. (regional councils); "Subnational population estimates (TA, SA2), by age and sex, at 30 June 1996-2023 (2023 boundaries)". Statistics New Zealand. Retrieved 25 October 2023. (territorial authorities); "Subnational population estimates (urban rural), by age and sex, at 30 June 1996-2023 (2023 boundaries)". Statistics New Zealand. Retrieved 25 October 2023. (urban areas)
  3. ^ An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, 1966, A. H. McLintock (editor)
  4. ^ Penelope Jackson and Robin Woodward (2013). Corrugations : the art of Jeff Thomson. Tauranga, N.Z.: Tauranga Art Gallery. ISBN 978-0-473-23510-9. OCLC 854304631.
  5. ^ "Marae Announcements" (Excel). growregions.govt.nz. Provincial Growth Fund. 9 October 2020.
  6. ^ a b "Climate: Taihape". Climate-data.org. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  7. ^ a b "Statistical area 1 dataset for 2018 Census". Statistics New Zealand. March 2020. Taihape (226500). 2018 Census place summary: Taihape
  8. ^ "First Taihape rail stop in over five years". TVNZ. October 2009.
  9. ^ Wallis, Anna (14 October 2013). "Watson wins Rangitikei chain". Wanganui Chroniclenzherald.co.nz. Retrieved 18 May 2016.
  10. ^ "Councillors". Rangitikei District Council. Retrieved 18 May 2016.
  11. ^ "Local Electoral Act 2001". Parliamentary Counsel Office. Retrieved 18 May 2016.
  12. ^ "Find my Electorate". Electoral Commission. Retrieved 18 May 2016.
  13. ^ "Rangitīkei Electorate Profile". New Zealand Parliament. 30 September 2012. Retrieved 18 May 2016.
  14. ^ "Te Tai Hauāuru Electorate Profile". New Zealand Parliament. 30 September 2012. Retrieved 18 May 2016.
  15. ^ "Rurawhe, Adrian". New Zealand Parliament. 4 December 2015. Retrieved 18 May 2016.
  16. ^ "Taihape Area School Official School Website". tas.school.nz.
  17. ^ "Taihape Area School Ministry of Education School Profile". educationcounts.govt.nz. Ministry of Education.
  18. ^ "Taihape Area School Education Review Office Report". ero.govt.nz. Education Review Office.
  19. ^ Herselman, Germari (16 July 2014). "Merging schools worth it - Taihape". The Marlborough Express. Retrieved 18 May 2016.
  20. ^ "St Joseph's School Ministry of Education School Profile". educationcounts.govt.nz. Ministry of Education.
  21. ^ "St Joseph's School Education Review Office Report". ero.govt.nz. Education Review Office.
  22. ^ "St Joseph's School Official School Website". saintjos.school.nz.
  23. ^ "Moke Belliss #226". All Blacks Match Centre.

External links[edit]