Tokoroa is situated in the upper Waikato basin. The surrounding district is part of the volcanic plateau and the land is undulating to hilly. Within 2–4 miles of the town are extensive exotic forests. The Putaruru-Taupo highway and the contiguous Kinleith branch railway pass through Tokoroa. Putaruru is 14 miles north-west and Kinleith is 4 miles south-east by road or rail.
The main rural activities of the district are sheep raising and dairying. Forestry is, however, the most important primary industry. Timber is milled and processed at Kinleith, but most of the Kinleith workers live in Tokoroa. Tokoroa is a marketing and servicing centre with associated industries. These include the manufacture of cheese, wooden boxes, and joinery; sawmilling, general engineering, and the quarrying of building stone.
Tokoroa was first subdivided by the Matarawa Land Co. in 1918-19, but until the 1930s its growth was slow. In 1944 the local progress league, anticipating town expansion with the utilisation of the exotic forests, urged the Matamata County Council to adopt a definite town plan for orderly development. The council, in consultation with the milling company and other interests, and with the assistance of the Town Planning Division of the Ministry of Works, made plans for the construction of the town on approved modern lines. This included the zoning of residential, commercial, and industrial areas, and adequate provision for all public amenities. Tokoroa was constituted a county town on 1 April 1953.
The origin and the meaning of the name are obscure.
POPULATION: 1951 census, 1,193; 1956 census, 5,366; 1961 census, 7,054.
by Brian Newton Davis, M.A., Vicar, St. Philips, Karori West, Wellington and Edward Stewart Dollimore, Research Officer, Department of Lands and Survey, Wellington.