—  Region of New Zealand  —
Official logo of Taranaki
Country New Zealand
Island North Island
Seat Stratford
Territorial authorities
 • Chairperson David MacLeod
 • Region 7,257 km2 (2,802 sq mi)
Population (June 2012 estimate)[1]
 • Region 110,100
 • Density 15/km2 (39/sq mi)
Time zone NZST (UTC+12)
 • Summer (DST) NZDT (UTC+13)

Taranaki is a region in the west of New Zealand's North Island, administered by the Taranaki Regional Council. It is named for its main geographical feature, the stratovolcano of Mount Taranaki.

The main centre is the city of New Plymouth. The New Plymouth District has over 65% of the population of Taranaki.[2][3] New Plymouth is in North Taranaki along with Inglewood and Waitara. South Taranaki towns include Hawera, Stratford and Etham.

Since 2005, Taranaki has used the promotional brand "Like no other".[4]


A map showing population density in the Taranaki Region at the 2006 census

Taranaki is on the west coast of the North Island, surrounding the volcanic peak. The region has an area of 7258 km². The large bays north-west and south-west of Cape Egmont are the prosaically named North Taranaki Bight and South Taranaki Bight.

Picture of Taranaki acquired from the Landsat 8 satellite, showing the near-circular Egmont National Park surrounding Mount Taranaki. New Plymouth is the grey area on the northern coastline.

Mount Taranaki or Mount Egmont, the second highest mountain in the North Island, is the dominant feature of the region. A Māori legend says that Taranaki previously lived with the Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu mountains of the central North Island but fled to its current location after a battle with Tongariro. A near-perfect cone, it last erupted in the mid-18th century. The mountain and its immediate surrounds form Egmont National Park.

Māori had called the mountain Taranaki for many centuries, and Captain James Cook renamed it Egmont after the Earl of Egmont, the recently retired First Lord of the Admiralty who had encouraged his expedition. The mountain has two alternative official names, "Mount Taranaki" and "Mount Egmont".[5]

View of Mount Taranaki from Stratford, facing west. Fanthams Peak is to the left of the main peak. The cow in the foreground is emblematic of Taranaki as a major dairying region.

The region is exceptionally fertile, thanks to generous rainfall and the rich volcanic soil. Dairy farming predominates, with Fonterra's Whareroa milk factory just outside of Hawera producing the largest volume of dairy ingredients from a single factory anywhere in the world.[6] There are also oil and gas deposits in the region, both on- and off-shore. The Maui gas field off the south-west coast has provided most of New Zealand's gas supply as well as, at one time supporting two methanol plants (one formerly a synthetic-petrol plant called the Gas-To-Gasoline plant) at Motunui. More fuel and fertiliser is produced from a well-complex at Kapuni and a number of smaller land-based oilfields. With the Maui field nearing depletion, new offshore resources have been developed: The Tui field, 50 km south of Hawera, with reserves of 50,000,000 barrels (7,900,000 m3) of oil[7] and the Pohokura gas field, 4.5 km north of Waitara.[8]

The way the land mass projects into the Tasman Sea with northerly, westerly and southerly exposures results in many excellent surfing and windsurfing locations, some of them considered world-class.


Taranaki has a population of 110,100 as of Statistics New Zealand's June 2012 estimate, 2.5 percent of New Zealand's population. It is the tenth most populous region of New Zealand.[9] The median age of Taranaki's population is 39.9 years, two years above the New Zealand median. Around 16.2 percent of the population is aged 65 or over while 21.1 percent is aged under 15. There are 95.7 males for every hundred females in Taranaki.[10]

Urban areas[]

Just under half the residents live in New Plymouth, with Hawera being the only other town in the region with a population over 10,000.

Urban area Population
(June 2012 estimate)[1]
% of region
New Plymouth 53,000 48.1%
Hawera 11,050 10.0%
Waitara 6,440 5.8%
Stratford 5,580 5.1%
Inglewood 3,300 3.0%
Eltham 1,990 1.8%
Opunake 1,300 1.2%
Patea 1,090 1.0%

Culture and identity[]

Largest groups of overseas-born residents[11]
Nationality Population (2013)
 United Kingdom 5,328
 Australia 1,560
 South Africa 939
 Philippines 624
 India 579
 Fiji 483
 China 480
 Netherlands 441
 United States 351
 Canada 210

The region has had a strong Māori presence for centuries. The local iwi (tribes) include Ngāti Mutunga, Ngāti Maru, Ngāti Ruanui, Taranaki, Te Āti Awa, Nga Rauru, Ngāruahinerangi and Ngāti Tama.

Around 50.2 percent of Taranaki's population affiliate with Christianity and 2.7 percent affiliate with non-Christian religions, while 43.8 percent are irreligious. Catholicism is the largest Christian denomination in Taranaki with 15.5 percent affiliating, while Anglicanism is the second-largest with 13.5 percent affiliating.[12]


The area became home to a number of Māori tribes from the 13th century. From about 1823 the Māori began having contact with European whalers as well as traders who arrived by schooner to buy flax.[13] In March 1828 Richard "Dicky" Barrett (1807–47) set up a trading post at Ngamotu (present-day New Plymouth).[14] Barrett and his companions, who were armed with muskets and cannon, were welcomed by the Āti Awa tribe because of their worth assisting in their continuing wars with Waikato Māori.[14] Following a bloody encounter at Ngamotu in 1832, most of the 2000 Āti Awa [14] living near Ngamotu, as well as Barrett, migrated south to the Kapiti region and Marlborough.

In late 1839 Barrett returned to Taranaki to act as a purchasing agent for the New Zealand Company, which had already begun on-selling the land to prospective settlers in England with the expectation of securing its title. Barrett claimed to have negotiated the purchase of an area extending from Mokau to Cape Egmont, and inland to the upper reaches of the Whanganui River including Mt Taranaki. A later deed of sale included New Plymouth and all the coastal lands of North Taranaki, including Waitara.

European settlement at New Plymouth began with the arrival of the William Bryan in March 1841. European expansion beyond New Plymouth, however, was prevented by Māori opposition to selling their land, a sentiment that deepened as links strengthened with the King Movement. Tension over land ownership continued to mount, leading to the outbreak of war at Waitara in March 1860. Although the pressure for the sale of the Waitara block resulted from the colonists' hunger for land in Taranaki, the greater issue fuelling the conflict was the Government's desire to impose British administration, law and civilisation on the Māori.[15]

The war was fought by more than 3500 imperial troops brought in from Australia, as well as volunteer soldiers and militia, against Māori forces that fluctuated between a few hundred and about 1500.[16] Total losses among the imperial, volunteer and militia troops are estimated to have been 238, while Māori casualties totalled about 200.

An uneasy truce was negotiated a year later, only to be broken in April 1863 as tensions over land occupation boiled over again. A total of 5000 troops fought in the Second Taranaki War against about 1500 men, women and children. The style of warfare differed markedly from that of the 1860-61 conflict as the army systematically took possession of Māori land by driving off the inhabitants, adopting a "scorched earth" strategy of laying waste to the villages and cultivations of Māori, whether warlike or otherwise. As the troops advanced, the Government built an expanding line of redoubts, behind which settlers built homes and developed farms. The effect was a creeping confiscation of almost a million acres (4,000 km²) of land.[17]

The present main highway on the inland side of Mount Taranaki follows the path taken by the colonial forces under Major General Trevor Chute as they marched, with great difficulty, from Patea to New Plymouth in 1866.

Armed Māori resistance continued in South Taranaki until early 1869, led by the warrior Titokowaru, who reclaimed land almost as far south as Wanganui. A decade later spiritual leader Te Whiti o Rongomai, based at Parihaka, launched a campaign of passive resistance against government land confiscation, which culminated in a raid by colonial troops on November 5, 1881.

The confiscations, subsequently acknowledged by the New Zealand Government as unjust and illegal,[18] began in 1865 and soon included the entire Taranaki district. Towns including Normanby, Hawera and Carlyle (Patea) were established on land confiscated as military settlements.[19] The release of a Waitangi Tribunal report on the situation in 1996 led to some debate on the matter. In a speech to a group of psychologists, Associate Minister of Māori Affairs Tariana Turia compared the suppression of Taranaki Māori to the Holocaust, provoking a vigorous reaction[20] around New Zealand, with Prime Minister Helen Clark among those voicing criticism.


The sub-national GDP of the Taranaki region was estimated at NZ$9.2 billion in 2014, making up 4% of New Zealand's national GDP.[21]

As of 2014 Taranaki has the highest GDP per capita of any region in New Zealand.[22]


Provincial government[]

From 1853 the Taranaki region was governed as the Taranaki Province (initially known as the New Plymouth Province) until the abolition of New Zealand provinces in 1876. The leading office was that of the superintendent.

The following is a list of superintendents of the Province of Taranaki during this time:

Superintendent Term
Charles Brown 1853–1857
George Cutfield 1857–1861
Charles Brown 1861–1865
Henry Robert Richmond 1865–1869
Frederic Carrington 1869–1876

Taranaki Regional Council[]

The Taranaki Regional Council was formed as part of major nationwide local government reforms in November 1989, for the purpose of integrated catchment management. The regional council was the successor to the Taranaki Catchment Board, the Taranaki United Council, the Taranaki Harbours Board, and 16 small special-purpose local bodies that were abolished under the Local Government Amendment Act (No 3) 1988. The Council's headquarters were established in the central location of Stratford to "provide a good compromise in respect of overcoming traditional south vs north Taranaki community of interest conflicts" (Taranaki Regional Council, 2001 p. 6).


  • Ross Leslie Allen (1989–2001)
  • David Walter (2001–2007)
  • David MacLeod (2007–present)

Māori dialect[]

The Māori language spoken in Taranaki replaces the sound of h (both on its own and in wh) with a break. (The sound used in adjacent Wanganui is similar but not identical.) Thus the famous elder Hina Okeroa was universally known as Ina. The name of the river flowing through New Plymouth, Waiwakaiho, would be written Waiwhakaiho (meaning "water flowing downward") in central North Island Māori.

Motion picture location[]

Taranaki's landscape and the mountain's supposed resemblance to Mount Fuji led it to be selected as the location for The Last Samurai, a motion picture set in 19th-century Japan. The movie starred Tom Cruise.

Notable people[]

  • Sir Harry Atkinson – Premier of New Zealand and Colonial Treasurer
  • Sir Peter Buck (Te Rangi Hīroa) of Ngāti Mutunga – Māori scholar, politician, military leader, health administrator, anthropologist, museum director, born in Urenui
  • Sir Māui Wiremu Pita Naera Pōmare of Ngāti Mutunga - politician, Minister of Health
  • Frederic Carrington – surveyor and father of New Plymouth
  • William Douglas Cook – founder of Eastwoodhill Arboretum, Ngatapa, Gisborne and of Pukeiti, world-famous rhododendron garden, New Plymouth.
  • Wiremu KīngiMāori Chief of Te Āti Awa, leader in the First Taranaki War
  • William Malone – First World War officer
  • Len Lye – artist, filmmaker born in Christchurch, collection only housed in New Plymouth
  • Michael Smither – artist
  • Ronald Syme – scholar of ancient history
  • Te Whiti o Rongomai – spiritual leader of Parihaka and pioneer of peaceful protest strategies[23]

Sports people[]

  • All Blacks: Beauden Barrett, Grant Fox, Luke McAlister, Kayla McAlister Graham Mourie, Conrad Smith
  • Rugby League: Gavin Hill, Issac Luke, Curtis Rona, Howie Tamati
  • Michael Campbell – golfer
  • Paige Hareb – professional surfer
  • Peter Snell – Gold medal winning athlete, born in Opunake

See also[]

  • First Taranaki War
  • Second Taranaki War
  • Titokowaru's War
  • New Zealand land confiscations
  • Taranaki Rugby Football Union
  • TSB Bank (New Zealand) – formerly Taranaki Savings Bank
  • Water quality in Taranaki


  1. ^ a b "Subnational population estimates at 30 June 2012". Statistics New Zealand. 23 October 2012. Retrieved 23 October 2012.  Also "Infoshare; Group: Population Estimates - DPE; Table: Estimated Resident Population for Urban Areas, at 30 June (1996+) (Annual-Jun)". Statistics New Zealand. 19 December 2012. Retrieved 23 October 2012. 
  2. ^ Template:NZ Quickstats2013
  3. ^ Template:NZ Quickstats2013
  4. ^ "Like No Other". New Plymouth District Council. 29 June 2006. Retrieved 25 June 2011. 
  5. ^ "What is the difference between alternative naming and dual naming?". Retrieved 19 March 2010. 
  6. ^ "Fonterra - Whareroa". 
  7. ^ Tui oil field. Retrieved on 2011-06-25.
  8. ^ "Pohokura gas field". Todd Energy. Archived from the original on 2010-05-26. 
  9. ^ Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named NZ population data
  10. ^ "2013 Census QuickStats about a place: Taranaki Region". Statistics New Zealand. Retrieved 28 March 2016. 
  11. ^ "Birthplace (detailed), for the census usually resident population count, 2001, 2006, and 2013 (RC, TA) – NZ.Stat". Statistics New Zealand. Retrieved 28 March 2016. 
  12. ^ "2013 Census QuickStats about culture and identity – data tables". Statistics New Zealand. 15 April 2014. Retrieved 29 January 2016.  Note some percentages (e.g. ethnicity, religion) may not add to 100 percent as people could give multiple responses or object to answering.
  13. ^ Puke Ariki Museum essay
  14. ^ a b c Angela Caughey (1998). The Interpreter: The Biography of Richard "Dicky" Barrett. David Bateman Ltd. ISBN 1-86953-346-1. 
  15. ^ Belich, James (1986). The New Zealand Wars and the Victorian Interpretation of Racial Conflict (1st ed.). Auckland: Penguin. ISBN 0-14-011162-X. 
  16. ^ Michael King (2003). The Penguin History of New Zealand. Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-301867-1. 
  17. ^ The Taranaki Report: Kaupapa Tuatahi by the Waitangi Tribunal, 1996
  18. ^ Ngati Awa Raupatu Report, chapter 10, Waitangi Tribunal, 1999.
  19. ^ B. Wells, The History of Taranaki, 1878, Chapter 25.
  20. ^ "A Taranaki Holocaust?" (2000) Downloadable Radio New Zealand broadcast
  21. ^ "Regional GDP, 2014 – Taranaki". Statistics New Zealand. 2015. Retrieved 14 February 2016. 
  22. ^ "Regional Gross Domestic Product: Year ended March 2014". 
  23. ^ "'Te Whiti o Rongomai'". Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 2014-12-20. 

Further reading[]

  • J. S. Tullett (1981). The Industrious Heart: A History of New Plymouth. New Plymouth District Council
  • Belich, James (1988). The New Zealand Wars. Penguin.
  • Dick Scott (1998). Ask That Mountain ISBN 0-7900-0190-X. Reed.

External links[]

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Coordinates: 39°18′S 174°8′E / -39.3, 174.133

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