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Historic Tuakau Village


Tū: to stand; ākau: shore, river bank

The history of Tuakau dates back to the early 1800’s when Tuakau Township was based at the side of the Waikato River, initially Tuakau was a trading centre for passing waka, but after war broke out in 1863 it was occupied by British troops. They built the Alexandra Redoubt, which still stands, on a tall bluff above the river. After the confiscation of surrounding Māori land, Tūākau became a farming service centre and thus through the mid-late1800s  the river was the main source of trade and freight movement between Auckland and the south and therefore the ‘first’ Tuakau Township was aptly situated a stone’s throw away from the renowned Waikato River, ‘the longest river in New Zealand, running for 425 kilometres (264 mi) through the North Island. It rises in the eastern slopes of Mount Ruapehu, joining the Tongariro River system and emptying into Lake Taupo, New Zealand’s largest lake. It drains Taupo at the lake’s northeastern edge, creates the Huka Falls, and then flows northwest, through the Waikato Plains. It then empties into the Tasman Sea west of Tuakau at historic Port Waikato.’

The Alexandra Redoubt overlooking the Waikato River circa 1863

However when the rail system was being constructed the tracks were laid at the foot of the Harrisville Road and thus the Tuakau Tavern and therefore the rest of the town relocated in its current position next to the rail lines, where the main cargo was sheep and beef that were traded at Tuakau sale yards, still to this day, New Zealand’s largest operational sale yard.

Tuakau Village as it was in the early decades of the 20th century (top) and the railyard holding pens (bottom) for stock that awaited their transport either to new bucolic pastures far away or to the freezing works in Auckland. These holding pens have vanished from the landscape although the activity of stock agents near this site is still a feature along Bollard Road beside the old Tuakau Station platform.

The view looking down the main street of Tuakau Village, George Street, towards the hills of Onewhero across the Waikato River (2016)

On November 1st of 2010, Tuakau was, as part of the emergent Auckland Supercity, rezoned into the Waikato region and became the first significant service town in the North Waikato. Sitting almost exactly on the border of Auckland and The Waikato, Tuakau is located only minutes from the state highway interchange linking the “Golden Economic Triangle” of Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga.

Tuakau Village has an immediate population of just under 4000 residents but has a catchment area of approximately 9000 covering, Onewhero, Pukekawa to Port Waikato. Traditionally a rural service town, Tuakau still supports New Zealands largest throughput livestock saleyards and has a significant primary based industry in particular Poultry and Horticulture and the associated processing.

Due to it’s prime distribution location, increasing commutability and now location in the Waikato District, recent years have seen Tuakau start to build and re-invent itself incorporating all the comforts of urban living (good coffee) whilst still supporting it’s original industries. Significant private investment in the CBD has transformed the appearance of the town center and residential development is also increasing due to the relatively low cost of land compared with Auckland.

From both a Geographical and Geological standpoint, Tuakau has strong advantages over other locations, positioned within 2 hours drive of over half of New Zealands population and on some of New Zealands most stable land in relation to earthquake, flood and volcanic risk, means that businesses can be provided a level of security over access to market and risk mitigation of natural disaster…

One of Tuakau’s significant advantages over Auckland is power supply, Tuakau supports multiple feed power an added security for industry wishing to avoid disruption similar to that in the Auckland blackouts. Tuakau has multiple fiber options, availability to connect to gas supply and the retail area accommodates services for all essential business requirements

One of the nicest things about Tuakau is that it is a destination town. People come to Tuakau, not because they are on their way somewhere else but because this is a great place to be, with interesting history, shops, people and community.

Today Tuakau could be described as the classic kiwi rural town, where life is simple and people greet each other on the street. Don’t be fooled however by the simple appearance, you can still get a great coffee, enjoy great food and fill all your basic shopping needs.

Tuakau has a wide range of attractive properties, from lifestyle, residential to rural, many are only walking distance from town giving people an opportunity to have the best of both worlds. Although easily commutable, to Auckland, Manukau, Hamilton and of course Pukekohe, employment options exist and are growing in a range of industries, and working from home is made easy with strong broadband and utilities available in the area.

For the young family there are plenty of options from sports, Rugby of course to Sea Scouts, Boxing and Waka Ama and if sports is not your thing the Community Garden is a great way to meet people, grow veggies and share with the neighbours. The Waikato river provides a great weekend or summer evening playground for water-skiing or jet ski’s and for those in the know there are lovely safe sandy beaches to be found on it’s banks.

Education is important to families and the Tuakau district is serviced by three primary schools, two colleges and a private academy ; Harrisville Primary School on Harrisville Road (up to Year 6), Tuakau Primary School on Buckland Road(up to Year 6), Pokeno Primary School (up to Year 6), Onewhero District School (from Year 1 up to Year 13) in Onewhero ,  Tuakau College on Buckland Road (Year 7 and up) and Eden Christian Academy (Year 1 – 13  which runs on the Cambridge Exam model) based within the grounds of ‘La Valla’ on Dominion Road (the old Felix Donnelly Home for Boys and prior to that the historic home and grounds of the Marist Brothers Juniorate).  There is also one kindergarten and four daycare facilities within the Tuakau township looking after the needs of our youngest members of the community.

Tuakau has a wonderful park in the John Lightbody Reserve on George Street, home to local sporting codes such as Rugby, Soccer, Touch Rugby, Cricket & Netball and also host to all manner of school and community events throughout the year. Tuakau also has its very own outdoor swimming pool, netball and tennis courts, as well as a Youth Club that has recently gone through a fabulous refurbishment .  Rugby League is played on the league fields next door to the Tuakau Pony Club on Alexandra Redoubt Road which is also home to the local Tuakau Softball Club and the local Sea Scouts.

Local community groups include Tuakau Rotary International,  Tuakau Lions Club of New Zealand, The Tuakau and Districts Development Association, the Onewhero-Tuakau Community Board, the St Johns Cadets, the Terrific Tuakau Business Network, the Tuakau Volunteer Fire Brigade, the Tuakau Sports Trust,  the Tuakau Community Gardens to name but a few. Tuakau thrives on its sense of history, unity and community and this is reflected in the camaraderie to be found within all organisations, schools or businesses within the greater Tuakau and districts area.

For now Tuakau is still a bit of a secret, but it won’t be for long……



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