Masonic Hotel

Brief History of Waitara

The commonly accepted meaning of the name Waitara is ‘mountain stream’, though Maori legend also states that it was originally Whai-tara ‘path of the dart’.  In 1867 the settlement was named Raleigh, after Sir Walter Raleigh.  It reverted to its former name Waitara in 1904.

Waitara was the site of the outbreak of the Taranaki Land Wars on 17 March 1860 which ran for 12 months before a ceasefire was negotiated. But in 1863 war resumed and in 1865 the Pekapeka block was confiscated.  In 1884 the Government returned 103,000 hectares of the 526,000 hectares confiscated.  In November 1999 the NZ Government signed an agreement with Te Atiawa to settle its claims.

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Waitara is the largest town in North Taranaki. It was one of the first areas in the region to be settled by Maori; consequently it has some important heritage sites. Manukorihi Pa is set above the town and features a magnificent carved meeting house, Te Ikaroa-a-Maui. Tours can be arranged.


Date: 1960s

Brief Description: Shows Manukorihi meeting house during the Olsson swamp excavations, Waitara. A ceremony was held here to lift any tapu associated with the Olsson swamp before excavations began.


Date: 09 February 1915

Brief Description: Waitara wharf and river. Boats pictured (left to right) are 'Dawn', 'Mahoe', 'Arapawa', 'Lighter No. 2', 'Tainui', Lighters no's 1, 3 & 4 and 'Wetere' (in river, not docked).