Kumara is situated on a terrace above the western bank of the Taramakau River in the northern part of Westland Plain, about 6 miles inland from the northern shores of Westland Bight. The surrounding country is mainly forest clad. The Otira-Kumara Junction highway passes through the borough. The Greymouth-Hokitika sections of highway and railway pass 4½ miles north-west through Kumara Junction. By road, Kumara is 17½ miles north-east of Hokitika and 11 miles south of Greymouth. The town is also the road junction for Mitchells (Lake Brunner), 18 miles east.
Timber milling is the main industry of the district and there are sawmills near Greenstone (10 miles east), at Dillmanstown (about 2 miles south-east), and elsewhere. Since 1956 a gold dredge has worked from the Big Hohonu River (Greenstone Creek) downstream to the north bank of the Taramakau River, about 5 miles south-east. There is mixed farming on cleared areas which tend to extend.
During 1863 various transient parties prospected for gold in the Greenstone Creek (Big Hohonu) Valley. The existence of payable gold was established in the following year. The road from Arthur's Pass to Hokitika was completed in 1866. It passed through Dillmanstown, where rich gold was found in 1876. A rush followed, and Kumara came into existence as a town. A tram line built through Paroa, south of Greymouth, in the late 1860s was extended to Kumara after the rush of 1876 and provided convenient access to the nearest port. The town developed rapidly as an important goldmining centre and, it is said, the population was 4,220 by October of the rush year. The Government constructed water races to enable gold to be won by hydraulic sluicing methods. By 1926 the goldmining industry had declined and by the late 1930s it had practically ceased. Kumara is said to be a corruption of Kohe mara, which means “Blossom of tataramoa” (bush lawyer or native bramble). The township was constituted a borough in 1877. R. J. Seddon became the first mayor.
by Edward Stewart Dollimore, Research Officer, Department of Lands and Survey, Wellington.
POPULATION: 1951 census, 478; 1956 census, 505; 1961 census, 435.