Story: Auckland places
Page 18 – Pukekohe and the rural south-west
Rural centre 40 km south of central Auckland on the eastern foreshore of Manukau Harbour. It serves a fertile region of market-gardening and dairying. Karaka is also home to the national yearling sales, held at the Karaka Bloodstock Sales Complex. In recent years wealthy Aucklanders have established lifestyle blocks in the district. Its growing affluence was illustrated in 2005 by the $14-million sale of a house and land.
2006 population: 7,725
Historic settlement, now the service town for a fertile farming and horticultural area 64 km south of central Auckland. This was a traditional area of Ngāti Te Ata. Sited on the Awaroa portage – between the Manukau Harbour and Waikato River – Waiuku was a stopping point for Waikato Māori trading with Auckland.
Glenbrook Steel Mills
Since 1969 ironsands from the Waikato River mouth have been used in the production of steel at the Glenbrook Steel Mills, 7 km north-east of Waiuku on the estuary. Renamed New Zealand Steel in 2002, and a subsidiary of the Australian company Bluescope Steel, the mills are the sole New Zealand producer of flat rolled steel products.
In 1963 Pukekohe onion-grower Rai Wai Ching contested a Parliamentary seat to highlight town prejudice. At candidates’ meetings he complained he was not served in bars and was only sold (less comfortable) downstairs seats in cinemas. After threats to blow him up, he was given police protection. Ching was not elected, but the publicity gradually changed town attitudes. He was later able to drink in hotels and choose his cinema seat.
2006 population: 22,299
Town servicing a fertile farming and horticultural area, 52 km south of Auckland. Skirmishes in the 1860s Waikato war took place at or near fortified churches at Mauku and Pukekohe East in September and October 1863..
The success of pioneering Chinese and Indian growers in the 1920s made Pukekohe the home of the reactionary White New Zealand League (1926)on the one hand, and on the other of the Pukekohe Indian Association.
The well-drained volcanic soil from Pukehohe–Bombay south to Pukekawa produces one-third of New Zealand’s fresh vegetables. The northern slopes of Pukekohe Hill are renowned for their potato crops.