Waiuku is situated at the head of an estuary of the same name which opens into the southern part of the Manukau Harbour. Access is by highway via Papakura from Auckland, 42 miles north-west, and by road from Pukekohe, 13 miles east. A branch railway links Waiuku with the North Island Main Trunk line at Paerata, north of Pukekohe.
Waiuku is a distributing and servicing centre for a large dairy and mixed farming district. Mairoro State Forest, established on dune country south-west of the town in 1932, is coming into production. Industrial activities in the town include light engineering, butter making, the manufacture of knitwear and clothing, and joinery and small-boat building. New Zealand's first steel plant is being established on a site at Glenbrook (about 5 miles north-east of Waiuku) and will treat ironsand brought from the shore deposits at Waikato Heads.
Waiuku came into existence about 1843 as a port on the then important trade route between Auckland and the agricultural area of the Waikato. It was also the terminal of an ancient Maori portage between the Waikato River and the Manukau Harbour. During the Waikato War (1863–64), Waiuku became a frontier town guarded by a blockhouse. The Waikato War ended the traffic responsible for the early development of the town as a trading post. The Kentish Hotel dates from the 1850s and nearby can be seen the ruins of the original town wharf. Waiuku later grew as a farming centre under road board administration, and in 1914 became a town district. It was constituted a borough in 1955.
The accepted meaning of “Waiuku” is muddy or discoloured waters.
POPULATION: 1951 census, 1,192; 1956 census, 1,417; 1961 census, 1,611.
by Brian Newton Davis, M.A., Vicar, St. Philips, Karori West, Wellington and Edward Stewart Dollimore, Research Officer, Department of Lands and Survey, Wellington.