Pukekohe is situated 31 miles south of Auckland by road and 5 miles west of the Bombay Hills. To the south the land rises gently to the Pukekohe Hill but elsewhere the surrounding country is flat to undulating. The North Island Main Trunk railway runs through the town but the main Auckland-Hamilton highway passes 5 miles east. By road Pukekohe is 55 miles north-west of Hamilton and 5 miles north-west of Tuakau.
The main rural activity of the district is market gardening. Potatoes and onions are grown extensively. Dairy and sheep farming are also important. Pukekohe is a servicing and distributing centre for a closely settled district. Industrial activities include the manufacture of butter and milk powder, vegetable processing; the making of concrete products, farm implements, joinery, and general and precision engineering. There are stock saleyards in the town. Within the borough are several areas of intensive market gardening. In recent years residential housing has tended to encroach on market gardening land and to extend up the northern slopes of Pukekohe Hill.
Pukekohe is considered to have been founded in 1880. European settlement was well established, however, to the north and west of the district by 1856. With the clearing of dense bush in the vicinity of Pukekohe, large areas of productive volcanic land became available. The soil proved suitable for crop raising and, with the growth of the large urban market of Auckland, the district became an important vegetable growing area. Pukekohe emerged as a natural market centre for the district. During 1863 there was considerable skirmishing in the country round the settlement. In October 1863 the stockaded Church of St. Bride's at Mauku (5 miles west) was attacked by Maoris who had earlier been engaged with troops in the vicinity. The enemy was driven off with loss. At Pukekohe East (3 miles east) on 14 September 1863 a large Maori war party laid siege to the local Presbyterian Church, which had been hastily fortified, but following reinforcement of the garrison by troops, the enemy was dispersed with loss. Pukekohe was linked with Auckland by rail in 1875 as a result of the extension of the line to Mercer. On 10 June 1905 Pukekohe was created a town district and on 1 April 1912 became a borough.
The name is an abbreviation of “Puke kohekohe” which means “Hill of the kohekohe (a native tree)”.
POPULATION: 1951 census, 3,647; 1956 census, 4,689; 1961 census, 5,787.
by Brian Newton Davis, M.A., Vicar, St. Philips, Karori West, Wellington and Edward Stewart Dollimore, Research Officer, Department of Lands and Survey, Wellington.