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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
Territorial authoritySouth Waikato District
 (2013 census)
 • Urban
Time zoneUTC+12 (NZST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+13 (NZDT)
Area code(s)07

Tirau (Māori: Tīrau[a]) 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).[4] In the Māori language, "Tīrau" means "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 on SH 5, or continue along SH 1 to Taupo and beyond to Napier, Palmerston North and Wellington. 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.

The small community of Okoroire is located just north of Tirau. Attractions include hot springs surrounded by bush. Private pools can be hired from the Okoroire Hotel. The pools are said to cure all types of aches and pains and have long been used for their health benefits. The Okoroire Hotel was built in the 1880s from native timber. It has been owned by the same family for three generations. An excellent 9-hole golf course is also available.[5]

Okoroire railway station was over 4 km (2.5 mi) to the west of the hot springs, on the Kinleith Branch, opened on 8 March 1886 and closed to passengers on 31 July 1962 and to goods on 18 August 1968.[6][7] The railway line remains open for freight.[8]

History and culture[edit]

European settlement[edit]

In the 19th century, Tirau, then Oxford, was originally planned as a large-scale city for the Waikato,[9] 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.

Railway station[edit]

Oxford railway station opened on 8 March 1886,[10] 133 mi 60 ch (215.2 km) from Auckland[11] and 30 mi 60 ch (49.5 km) from Morrinsville, where the Kinleith Branch is crossed by Okoroire Rd[12] The line was extended 6 mi 77 ch (11.2 km) south to Putaruru[13] and Lichfield on 21 June 1886.[14] 563 passengers bought tickets in 1894,[15] 330 in 1895[16] and 308 in 1896, when the main import was coal and the main exports timber and sheep.[17] It was renamed Tirau on 8 March 1886 and closed to passengers on 12 November 1968 and to goods on 29 March 1981.[18] The station had a small platform building, a goods shed and a water tower.[19]

Recent history[edit]

In 1991, local business man Henry Clothier took advantage of the town's relatively cheap real estate and high traffic volume 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 is working, on behalf of the Tirau Ward, in conjunction with the community, to develop a concept plan for Tirau's future.[20] 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[21] new emphasis on the four well-beings, social, economic, environmental and cultural.


The local Paparāmu Marae and Te Apunga meeting house are affiliated with the Ngāti Raukawa hapū of Ngāti Mōtai and Ngāti Te Apunga.[22][23]


The Tirau 'good shepherd', outside the local church

The town is now a well known tourist stop-off, and is characterised by many art works created out of corrugated iron. The church and many of the shops feature corrugated iron sculptures by local artist Steven Clothier and two large buildings are completely made from this material; the information centre which is shaped like a giant dog,[24] and the neighbouring sheep and ram building[25] - earning Tirau the title of "Corrugated Capital of the World".

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.[26]

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.[27]


Tirau Primary School is the sole school in Tirau. It is a contributing primary school (Years 1–6) and has 102 students as of March 2019.[28]

The nearest secondary school is Putaruru College, 8 kilometres (5 mi) south of Tirau, in Putaruru.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Also widely used in New Zealand English.[1][2][3]


  1. ^ "Tirau Community Board member resigns". Stuff. Retrieved 2018-07-14.
  2. ^ "Tirau walkway gets the nod". Stuff. Retrieved 2018-07-14.
  3. ^ "AA Travel : Accommodation in Tīrau | AA New Zealand". www.aa.co.nz. Retrieved 2018-07-14.
  4. ^ "2013 Census QuickStats about a place: Tirau". Statistics New Zealand. Retrieved 17 December 2014.
  5. ^ "1:50,000 map". topomap.co.nz. Topo Map. Retrieved 17 November 2018.
  6. ^ "Current and historical topographic maps (topomaps) of New Zealand". www.mapspast.org.nz. 1944. Retrieved 2018-05-13.
  7. ^ "Photo of 1932 Hamilton mystery excursion train at station". NZ ETC. Victoria University of Wellington. Retrieved 17 November 2018.
  8. ^ Scoble, Juliet (2010). "Names & Opening & Closing Dates of Railway Stations" (PDF). Rail Heritage Trust of New Zealand.
  9. ^ "1881 Plan of the township of Oxford". www.aucklandcity.govt.nz. Retrieved 2018-05-13.
  10. ^ "The New Railway Time-Table". Waikato Times. 1886-03-06. p. 2. Retrieved 2018-05-15.
  11. ^ "Railway Extension". New Zealand Herald. 1886-02-23. p. 5. Retrieved 2018-05-15.
  12. ^ "Current and historical topographic maps (topomaps) of New Zealand". www.mapspast.org.nz. 1944. Retrieved 2018-05-14.
  13. ^ "Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives — 1894 Session I — D-01 Page 45". atojs.natlib.govt.nz. Retrieved 2018-05-14.
  14. ^ "Opening of Railway Line to Lichfield". New Zealand Herald. 1886-06-15. p. 4. Retrieved 2018-05-15.
  15. ^ "Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives — 1894 Session I — D-02 Page 17". atojs.natlib.govt.nz. Retrieved 2018-05-14.
  16. ^ "Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives — 1895 Session I — D-02 Page 25". atojs.natlib.govt.nz. Retrieved 2018-05-14.
  17. ^ "Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives — 1896 Session I — D-02 Page 11". atojs.natlib.govt.nz. Retrieved 2018-05-14.
  18. ^ Scoble, Juliet (2010). "Names & Opening & Closing Dates of Railway Stations" (PDF). Rail Heritage Trust of New Zealand.
  19. ^ "Tirau, South Waikato District". natlib.govt.nz. 1965-01-01. Retrieved 2018-05-15.
  20. ^ South Waikato District Council
  21. ^ Local Government Act 2002
  22. ^ "Te Kāhui Māngai directory". tkm.govt.nz. Te Puni Kōkiri.
  23. ^ "Māori Maps". maorimaps.com. Te Potiki National Trust.
  24. ^ "The i-SITE Visitor Centre". Retrieved 26 April 2019.
  25. ^ Wilkie, Kelsie (20 October 2016). "Corrugated iron sheep and ram buildings in Tirau for sale". Stuff.
  26. ^ "Tirau". Fonterra. Retrieved 27 March 2013.
  27. ^ "Find my electorate". Electoral Commission. Retrieved 19 December 2015.
  28. ^ "Directory of Schools - as at 3 April 2019". New Zealand Ministry of Education. Retrieved 9 May 2018.

External links[edit]