Taranaki - ‘Like no other’
Settlement Support Coordinator
The Taranaki District is named after the dominant geographical feature of the region, Mount Taranaki - or Te Maunga O Taranaki - an almost perfect volcanic cone that sits at its heart.
The mountain is tied to one of the best known Maori legends, in which Taranaki was a mountain God who lived side by side with the North Island’s other three obvious mountains, Ruapehu, Tongariro and Ngaruhoe, further north in the Central Plateau.
Taranaki quarrelled with Tongariro over their desire for another (Mount Pihanga), and after losing the ensuing battle strode off in deep despair, finally arriving in its current location, and creating a huge valley on the way - which the became the Whanganui river.
Today the district is peaceful and prosperous, belying its central role in some of New Zealand’s early Maori wars, which are now also central to the country’s history.
Key industries in the area are agriculture and petro-chemicals. Dairy farming dominates the land, with the second largest milk treatment factory in the southern hemisphere located in the town of Hawera. The country’s only operating oil and gas reserves are both onshore and just offshore in the Taranaki bight.
Taranaki’s principal city is New Plymouth, located on the coast about 30 km from the mountain’s peak. This city of almost 70,000 offers good employment prospects from its sound economic base, and has developed several key cultural events that keep tourism interest high also.
These include the New Zealand performance of WOMAD (World of Music Art and Dance) at one of the world’s best outdoor venues - the Bowl of Brooklands at Pukekura Park. The annual Rhododendron Festival also attracts people from around the world.
The centrally located Pukekura Park is 52 hectares including a cricket ground. It was named the most picturesque in the world in an early 2000 survey. It hosts the city’s famous Festival of Lights every year.
Another important recreation activity in the region is surfing. While prevailing south-westerly winds can keep the temperature down, it also powers some of the most reliable and powerful waves, and from every vantage point in the region you are in constant view of one of the world’s most picturesque mountains. Mt. Taranaki itself is a national park, and a great place for tramping (hiking) and other outdoor pursuits.
Taranaki has the country’s second highest annual rainfall, but also the fifth highest sunshine hours. Because of this it is not surprising that it is green and lush all year round.
The government also provides support for newcomers to create their own local networks.
To find out more, visit the Newcomers Network.
The Newcomers Network is supported by Settling In, an initiative of Family and Community Services (Ministry of Social Development).