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Browse the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.



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Spectacular Development

The general economic development of the post-war period has nowhere else been so spectacularly made manifest as in the Central Plateau. From a relatively underpopulated and undeveloped region it has emerged as the most important centre for the production of hydro-electric power, timber, pulp, and paper in the North Island. Its tourist and recreational facilities have undergone marked improvement, whilst the agricultural production of the region and the extent of the area grassed have increased tremendously. Excluding Opotiki, the total area grassed in the remaining four counties has increased by 51.75 per cent during the period 1951–52 to 1959–60. Two sizable towns, Kawerau (4,413) and Tokoroa (7,054), in Matamata County, have grown from nothing, and Mangakino (5,025) has been established to house the families of the engineers and labourers engaged in the construction of the hydro-electric dams. Rapid rates of growth have been attained during the last decade in Rotorua (81.68 per cent), Tauranga (72.15 per cent), Whakatane (89.25 per cent), and Taupo (287.40 per cent). The improvement of roads and highways which has accompanied and assisted all these developments has not only facilitated access and circulation within the region but has also made it the principal route for motor traffic between the northern and southern parts of the North Island. In the Central Plateau one has been able to observe the creation of a modern geography through the needs and with the technologies of the twentieth century.

By linking together the two regional names of Central Plateau and Bay of Plenty one recognises a further aspect of change during the post-war period. The Bay of Plenty is a much longer settled and more intensely developed region than the Central Plateau, but with the improvement of roading and with the establishment of Mount Maunganui as the port for the timber industries, the interrelation between the two areas has grown apace. The individualities of the two regions have not merged, but it would be an anachronism and against the trend established by the economic forces at work to maintain their separate identities.