Kōrero: Whanganui places

Whārangi 6. River settlements

Ngā whakaahua me ngā rauemi katoa o tēnei kōrero


Settlement 12 km north-east of Whanganui. St Mary’s Anglican Church, built in 1877, is the oldest church on its original site in Whanganui District.


Settlement 18 km from Whanganui, the home of Ngā Paerangi and site of the first Catholic mission on the river in 1852. The unique twin-gabled meeting house is called Te Kiritahi. A nationally known cultural group, Te Matapihi, which has produced several compact discs and records, is organised from Kaiwhaiki. Shellrock was quarried nearby to build the Durie Hill tower.


Locality 24 km from Whanganui, the home of Ngāti Tuera, whose meeting house is Wharewhiti, and Ngāti Hinearo, whose house is Te Aroha. Parikino was originally on the other side of the river. At Pungarehu, 3 km south, the Maranganui meeting house was built for Ngāti Tuera by noted carver Hōri Pukehika.

Ātene (Athens)

Locality 35 km from Whanganui. The small meeting house of Ngāti Hineoneone is all that remains of a former kāinga (village).

Koriniti (Corinth)

Settlement 47 km from Whanganui. The Ngāti Pamoana marae features two restored meeting houses. Te Waiherehere is Koriniti’s own original house, and Poutama, moved across the river from Karatia (Galatea) in 1967, is one of the district’s finest meeting houses. Ōperika pā, the original home of Ngāti Pamoana, is a fine historic example of a fighting pā. An eco-lodge, The Flying Fox, is located across the river from Koriniti.


Farming community 55 km from Whanganui, the home of Ngā Poutama. Across the river was Karatia, once the main kāinga of the area and now deserted. The remains of the sternwheeler Tuhua, wrecked in 1890, are on the far side of Moutere Island. A mill gifted by Governor George Grey operated from 1854 to 1913 and has now been restored.

Rānana (London)

Settlement 60 km from Whanganui; services are still held in the Catholic church built in the 1880s for Ngāti Ruaka. Moutoa Island, the site of an 1864 battle, is nearby.

Grand names

Several small settlements on the lower river have names transliterated from English into Māori, some with biblical associations. They include Jerusalem (Hiruhārama), Ātene (Athens) and Rānana (London). Many other villages, now deserted, had similar appellations after Māori requested names from the missionary Richard Taylor in the 1840s.

Jerusalem (Hiruhārama)

Settlement and home of Ngāti Hau, 66 km from Whanganui. The nun Suzanne Aubert, founder of the Order of the Sisters of Compassion in 1892, worked there from 1883 to 1899. Unlike the other river settlements, Jerusalem is more commonly known by the English version of its name. The Catholic church and convent date from the 1890s. Poet James K. Baxter lived in a commune at Jerusalem, which disbanded soon after Baxter’s death in 1972.


Settlement 79 km from Whanganui, the home of Ngāti Kura. The main settlement was originally across the river. From 1854 Māori grew wheat there for the Kaukore mill. Pai Mārire warriors besieged three redoubts across the river for several weeks in 1865. Pipiriki was an important centre during the riverboat era from the mid-1890s to the 1920s, and remains a gateway to the wilderness reaches of the river.

Me pēnei te tohu i te whārangi:

Diana Beaglehole, 'Whanganui places - River settlements', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/mi/whanganui-places/page-6 (accessed 23 June 2024)

He kōrero nā Diana Beaglehole, i tāngia i te 16 Jun 2008, updated 15 Jun 2015