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  • Robert Leslie Wills (1927 - 2006)
    Robert Wills, known as Bob, was born in Gisborne in 1927, the fifth child of Fred Wills and Ellen Grafham. His mother died of Pnemonia when he was 4 years old and father Fred died when Bob was 27 in 19...
  • Pōtatau Te Wherowhero (c.1775 - 1860)
    Te Wherowhero was born in Waikato towards the end of the eighteenth century. He was the eldest son of a Waikato warrior chief, Te Rauangaanga, and Parengāope of Ngāti Koura. He belonged to the senior c...
  • Capt. Nepia Te Aotapunui Mahuika (1912 - 2001)
    Captain Nepia Mahuika, who embarked with the 10th Reinforcements. He was wounded once.
  • John Edward Roper (1903 - 1991)
  • Kathleen Joyce Jones (1922 - 1970)

Ngāruawāhia (pop. 5,106) is a town in the Waikato region of the North Island of New Zealand. It is located 20 km north-west of Hamilton at the confluence of the Waikato and Waipa Rivers, adjacent to the Hakarimata Range.

Name origin

The name Ngāruawāhia means "the opened food pits", which derives from a great feast in the 17th century. Te Ngaere, a Ngāti Tamainupō chief, and Heke-i-te-rangi, a Ngāti Maniapoto woman, had eloped and settled at Ngāruawāhia, causing a rift between their tribes. When their first child was born, Ngāti Maniapoto were invited to the celebration in an attempt to reconcile the tribes. Te Ngaere's father named the boy Te Mana-o-te-rangi in honour of Ngāti Maniapoto. Peace was established between the tribes, and Te Ngaere shouted "Wāhia ngā rua" (break open the food pits).

One of the few surviving examples of Ngaruawahia's previous name is the old Newcastle Butchery building


After the invasion of the Waikato in 1863 by British imperial forces, the town was renamed Newcastle, but eventually reverted to being named Ngaruawahia. Officers from the United States visited Ngaruawahia during World War II and would share food at Hāngis. Queen Elizabeth II has visited Ngaruawahia on two occasions (1953 & 1974). On the latter occasion, then Māori Queen Dame Te Ātairangikaahu and her husband Whatumoana Paki welcomed Queen Elizabeth II to the local marae.

The Great Ngaruawahia Music Festival was held in 1973, and featured many music acts, including some that went on to become internationally famous such as Black Sabbath and Split Enz. It was the first large outdoor music festival in New Zealand. Ngaruawahia celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2013 coincidentally during the same year that Ngaruawahia High School (which opened a century later in 1963) celebrated its 50th.


Ngāruawāhia is home to the Māori Kīngitanga or King Movement. The first Māori King, Pōtatau Te Wherowhero, was crowned at Ngāruawāhia in April, 1857, and was living there when he died three years later. The current Māori King is Tuheitia Paki who obtained the throne at Turangawaewae Marae immediately following his mother's passing in 2006


Ngaruawahia is known for its local regatta, a traditional preservance of New Zealand's history and Māori culture. An event is held every year in March on the Waikato River. The first regatta was an unofficial event in 1892, involving both Māori and Pākehā festivities. The regatta provided a means of association between two ethnic groups, socially and culturally. The first official regatta took place in 1896 and since then has grown to become one of New Zealand's largest aquatic festivals.

Former residents

  • Shaun Kenny-Dowall, rugby league player
  • Richard Tomlinson, MI6 officer


  • Ngaruawahia Primary School
  • Waipa Primary School
  • St Paul's Catholic School
  • Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Bernard Fergusson
  • Glen Massey School
  • Ngaruawahia High School
  • Waikato-Tainui College for Research and Development