Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.


Eketahuna is situated on the banks of the Makakahi River in northern Wairarapa. The town occupies river flats and terraces on a wide but undulating and hilly valley floor. To the west the land rises to the Tararua Range and to the east to the Puketoi Range. The Napier-Woodville section of railway and main highway pass through the town. By road Eketahuna is 26 miles south west of Woodville (27 miles by rail) and 25 miles north of Masterton (22 miles by rail).

The main farming activities of the district are sheep and cattle raising and dairying. Casein is manufactured at Nireaha (5 miles north-west) and at Rongokokako (3 miles south-west). Limestone is quarried at Mauriceville (10 miles south). Eketahuna serves as a small social and marketing centre for the farming population. The main industrial activities are the manufacture of concrete products, and general and mechanical engineering.

Eketahuna was originally within the southern part of the Forty Mile Bush, which extended northwards beyond Woodville. In 1870 and 1872 large parties of Scandinavian immigrants were transported by wagon from Wellington via “Rimutaka Hill” to Masterton and there housed temporarily. In 1872 they were established at Mauriceville (named after Sir George Maurice O'Rorke. As they were skilled woodsmen, some subsisted on earnings from contract bush felling. Others were employed in the construction of the Masterton-Woodville highway. A number of these settlers moved further north later in 1872 and founded Mellenskov, which soon afterwards was renamed Eketahuna. In the late 1870s and early 1880s an association organised by G. M. Park, of Masterton, took up small holdings centred on Parkville (about 1½ miles south-west). A large area of the Forty Mile Bush was opened for settlement after 1893 and soon small communities were established around Nireaha, Newman (2 miles north), and Hukanui (7 miles north). Farming in the district developed with the comparatively rapid clearance of the forest. The railway, which began from Wellington in 1874, was not opened to Masterton until 1 November 1880. It was extended to Mauriceville on 14 June 1886, to Mangamahoe on 10 January 1887, and to Eketahuna on 8 April 1889. The line was opened through to Woodville on 11 December 1897. Town affairs were administered during the 1880s by a road board. In 1907 Eketahuna was constituted a borough. The name means, literally, “to run aground on a sandbank”, and it is said that Maori canoes could not proceed beyond this part of the Makakahi River because of shoals.

POPULATION: 1951 census, 722; 1956 census, 774; 1961 census, 771.

by Brian Newton Davis, M.A., Vicar, St. Philips, Karori West, Wellington and Edward Stewart Dollimore, Research Officer, Department of Lands and Survey, Wellington.

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