Story: Bay of Plenty places

Page 7. Te Puke to Maketū

All images & media in this story

Te Puke

Western Bay of Plenty town 21 km south-east of Mt Maunganui on State Highway 2. George Vesey Stewart established the settlement, and the first British settlers arrived in 1881.

A school was opened in 1883, but it was through dairying in the early 20th century that the town flourished. A second boost came in the 1970s with kiwifruit production. The district has remained the most substantial producer of kiwifruit in the country. The 2013 population was 7,494.

The Bay’s green heart

New Zealand’s kiwifruit industry began in Te Puke, which is now dubbed the kiwifruit capital of the world. A highlight of the year is a festival in which the Kiwifruit Queen is crowned.

Kaituna River

River that drains Lake Rotorua and Lake Rotoiti. Starting at the outlet of Rotoiti at Ōkere Arm, it flows to the sea at the Maketū estuary. In the 20th century its course was regulated for flood control.

Between Rotoiti and Te Tumu it passes through a steep gorge, popular for white-water rafting. It then meanders through the alluvial terraces of the mid-Kaituna River and the peat and sand deposits of the lower Kaituna basin. The Mangorewa River is a major tributary.

It is particularly significant to the Te Arawa tribe, as it mostly flows through their lands. The Ngāti Pikiao people of Te Arawa took a successful claim regarding the water quality to the Waitangi Tribunal in 1978.


Headland and town 15 km north-east of Te Puke. Maketū is one of the most historic coastal landmarks in the Bay of Plenty. Little Waihī, virtually an extension of Maketū, lies to the east. Other nearby settlements include Te Tumu, Pongakawa and Pukehina.

In 2013 the population was 1,047. 63.0% identified themselves as Māori and 44.4% as European. The centre of the Māori community is on the flat land adjacent to the coast, while many retired Pākehā live in the streets above.


The Te Arawa canoe made landfall at Maketū, and a small cairn built in 1940 commemorates the event. The Ngāi Te Rangi and Te Arawa tribes contested authority over the area in the early 19th century. Te Arawa supported trader Phillip Tapsell, who lived there in the 1830s. From fortified positions Te Arawa and British forces repelled war parties from the East Coast seeking to join Waikato supporters of the Māori King movement in 1864.

Because it was isolated between swamps along the Kaituna and Pongakawa rivers, there was little European settlement at Maketū until much of the swampland was drained early in the 20th century.


The headland divides the Maketū and Waihī estuaries. These important wetlands are being restored after degradation caused by flood diversion and drainage works. They support a diverse range of shorebirds and gulls including the Pacific reef egret, variable oystercatcher, New Zealand dotterel, banded dotterel, wrybill, Caspian tern and blackfronted tern. The mudflats and sand flats are important wintering areas for migratory shorebirds from the northern hemisphere, including some rare visitors. Vegetation includes rare and threatened fern species.

How to cite this page:

Malcolm McKinnon, 'Bay of Plenty places - Te Puke to Maketū', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 25 July 2024)

Story by Malcolm McKinnon, published 5 Dec 2005, updated 1 Jul 2015