Kaikohe is situated in the North Auckland Peninsula almost midway between the Hokianga Harbour on the west and the Bay of Islands on the east. The town occupies a comparatively level site and the surrounding country is undulating, except to the immediate west, where Kaikohe Hill rises to 925 ft. To the north-east the land rises gently to prominent volcanic hills south-east of Lake Omapere. Kaikohe is 53 miles north-west of Whangarei, 56 miles north of Dargaville, and 23 miles south-west of Paihia. The nearest main port is Opua (port of Bay of Islands), 26 miles north-east. The Whangarei-Okaihau railway passes through the town.
The district supports a variety of farming activities including sheep, cattle, and dairy farming, and market gardening. Kaikohe is a servicing and distributing centre. Town industries include saw-milling, general engineering, the manufacture of concrete products, and joinery. The New Zealand Forest Service tree nursery and local headquarters are located in the borough and a grasslands research substation is maintained by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. The Northland College features rural education and runs its own 600-acre farm from which the bulk of Kaikohe town milk supply is drawn. Ngawha hot springs, 6 miles east, are a minor health resort.
Kaikohe was originally a Maori village called Opanga. In the nineteenth century the village was raided by a rival tribe and fugitives subsisted on berries among the kohekohe groves on Tokareireia (Kaikohe Hill). After this incident the place became known as Kai kohekohe and was later shortened to Kaikohe. The Rev. Samuel Marsden and party passed through the district in October 1819. Marsden also visited Kaikohe in 1837. Some years earlier the village had been converted to Christianity by Ripi, a lay mission worker. The district was the scene of fighting during the first Maori War. Hone Heke settled in Kaikohe after fighting ceased, and died there in 1850. Hone Heke, M.H.R. for Northern Maori, a grandnephew of Hone Heke the war chief, also lived in Kaikohe; and in April 1911 a monument to him was unveiled on Kaikohe Hill by Sir James Carroll acting Prime Minister. Kaikohe was predominantly a Maori settlement for many years. In 1914 the railway reached the town from Otiria and Whangarei but the section to Okaihau was not completed until 1926. The progress of the district was accelerated in 1919 when returned servicemen were settled on nearby farm lands. During the Second World War the United States Army had a base hospital built in the town and an Air Force bomber base nearby. Kaikohe was created a dependent town district of the Bay of Islands County on 13 November 1919; it became an independent town district on 1 April 1927; and on 1 July 1947 was constituted a borough.
POPULATION: 1951 census, 1,609; 1956 census, 2,122; 1961 census, 2,733.
by Brian Newton Davis, M.A., Vicar, St. Philips, Karori West, Wellington and Edward Stewart Dollimore, Research Officer, Department of Lands and Survey, Wellington.