History of Taumarunui township


Maori people have lived in this area for hundreds of years.  It held strategic importance due to the convergence of two major rivers, the Ongarue and the Whanganui, which join at the point now known as Cherry Grove in Taumarunui.  The area was also important because of the size and quality of the native trees, mainly totara, which grew here.  Large canoes, or waka, were built here from totara and used as transportation of logs and people down the Whanganui river to the township of Wanganui.  A number of Maori tribes, or iwi, laid claim to land in this area.  These iwi included the Whanganui, the Ngati Maniapoto, and the Ngati Tuwharetoa.

The first European settler into the Taumarunui area was Alexander Bell who married a Maori woman from this area in Taupo.  Alexander Bell waited in Turangi for three weeks until word could be carried to the iwi and permission granted for him to enter the Taumarunui area.  Finally in December 1874 Mr Bell entered the district and took up residence with his wife, Katarina.  Look out for Bell Road and Katarina Street in Taumarunui!

In the early 1880s the first surveys of the King Country commenced and by the early 1890s the Crown had begun the purchase of large areas of land.

Later Taumarunui gained importance as the halfway point with the construction of the North Island Main Trunk Railway Line between Auckland and Wellington (celebrated in a ballad byPeter Cape).  In more recent times, the town’s economy has been based on forestry and farming.

We are now gaining increasing notice both domestically and internationally as a centre for adventure tourism activities, especially as an entry point for voyagers down the scenic Whanganui River and as the possessor of a high quality golf course.