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Tirau is located in New Zealand
Location of Tirau in New Zealand
Coordinates: 37°59′S 175°45′E / 37.983°S 175.750°E / -37.983; 175.750Coordinates: 37°59′S 175°45′E / 37.983°S 175.750°E / -37.983; 175.750
Country  New Zealand
Region Waikato
Territorial authority South Waikato District
Ward Tirau
Population (2013 census)
 • Urban 690
Time zone NZST (UTC+12)
 • Summer (DST) NZDT (UTC+13)
Postcode 3410
Area code(s) 07

Tirau is a small town in the Waikato region of the North Island of New Zealand, 50 kilometres southeast of Hamilton. The town has a population of 690 (2013 census).[1] Tirau is Maori for "place of many cabbage trees."

Tirau is a major junction in the New Zealand State Highway network. Just south of the township is the intersection of State Highway 1 and State Highway 5, where traffic from Auckland and Hamilton on State Highway 1 split to go either to Rotorua (SH 5) or Taupo (SH 1). State Highway 27 splits off State Highway 1 in the north of the town, providing a route north to the Coromandel Peninsula and an alternative route to Auckland, bypassing Hamilton.

Tirau is primarily a farming town but in recent years has begun to exploit the income that comes from being at a major road junction.


In the 19th century, Tirau, then Oxford, was originally planned as a large-scale city for the Waikato, however plans were changed after the entrepreneurial Rose family bought up large areas of land in the region, with the intention of making large returns when it came of high demand. Oxford later became a rural service town, and changed its name to Tirau in 1896.

In 1991, local business man Henry Clothier sought to advantage from the relatively cheap real estate and high traffic volume in the town by opening an Antique shop in the former Rose Bros. grocery store building. Many other businesses followed suit off the back of his success throughout the 1990s until today. Tirau has built a reputation as a shopping destination for antiques, collectibles and other niche items. In 2005/06 the South Waikato District Council[2] is working, on behalf of the Tirau Ward, in conjunction with the community, to develop a concept plan for Tirau's future. This project is taking the success of Tirau's transformation over the past decade and linking it with the requirements of the Local Government Act 2002[3] new emphasis on the four well-beings, social, economic, environmental and cultural.

Tirau Today[edit]

The Tirau 'good shepherd', outside the local church

The town is now a well known tourist stop-off, and is characterised by many local art works in the town forged out of discarded corrugated iron. The church and many of the shops feature corrugated iron sculptures and two are completely covered in this material, the information centre which is shaped like a giant dog and the adjacent Big Sheep Wool Gallery, which as its name suggests, is shaped like a sheep.[4]

The Castle, a large toy museum on the town's southern limits which opened in 2000, can clearly be seen when heading towards the township from Rotorua or Taupo.

The Tirau dairy factory is New Zealand's only producer of lactalbumin, a key ingredient in the production of sports supplements.[5]

The Tirau pub
Tirau's corrugated iron 'giant dog' and 'big sheep' buildings.


Tirau is governed locally by the South Waikato District Council. Nationally, Tirau is part of the Taupō general electorate and the Te Tai Hauāuru Māori electorate.[6]


Tirau Primary School is the sole school in Tirau. It is a contributing primary school (Years 1–6) and has 115 students as of March 2016.[7]

The nearest secondary school is Putaruru College, 8 km south of Tirau in Putaruru.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "2013 Census QuickStats about a place: Tirau". Statistics New Zealand. Retrieved 17 December 2014. 
  2. ^ South Waikato District Council
  3. ^ Local Government Act 2002
  4. ^ Tirauinfo: Local Attractions
  5. ^ "Tirau". Fonterra. Retrieved 27 March 2013. 
  6. ^ "Find my electorate". Electoral Commission. Retrieved 19 December 2015. 
  7. ^ "Directory of Schools - as at 18 April 2016". New Zealand Ministry of Education. Retrieved 2015-04-19. 

External links[edit]