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Edgecumbe
Minor urban area
Country New Zealand
Region Bay of Plenty
Territorial authority Whakatane District
Ward Rangitāiki
Population
 (June 2016)
 • Total 1,780
Postcode(s)
3120

Edgecumbe is a town in the Bay of Plenty of the North Island of New Zealand, 15 kilometres to the west of Whakatane and eight kilometres south of the Bay's coast. It is the main service town for the agricultural region surrounding the plains of the Rangitaiki River, which flows through the town. It had a population of 1626 in the 2006 New Zealand Census but it has since increased to 1,638 as of the 2013 Census. State Highway 2 and the Taneatua Branch railway line (disused) pass through the town.

History

The town is named after the small village of Edgecumbe in Cornwall, United Kingdom, between Penryn and Helston. Edgecumbe was linked with Tauranga and Auckland by rail with the opening of the East Coast Main Trunk Railway and Taneatua Express in 1928. In 1987, a large earthquake centered on Edgecumbe shook the Bay of Plenty, causing widespread damage and causing much of the population to leave Edgecumbe. In July 2004 and May 2005 the town experienced heavy flooding that ruined many homes. In the 2005 flood, the river swelled to within 5 cm of breaching the flood banks that had been put in place seven years prior.

The 1987 Edgecumbe earthquake

The earthquake was a major turning point in the history of Edgecumbe. It measured 6.3 on the Richter magnitude scale and struck the Bay of Plenty region of New Zealand on 2 March 1987 just after 1.42 pm. The earthquake was very shallow, being centred approximately 8 km from the Earth's surface. The earthquake was one of the most damaging New Zealand's North Island has experienced in recent decades, with approximately 50% of the houses in Edgecumbe being damaged by the quake. There was extensive damage to a local milk factory, with large storage tanks toppled. Kawerau was another nearby town that suffered damage and Whakatane was also badly shaken. An 80-tonne New Zealand Railways DC class locomotive was thrown onto its side.

The earthquake caused no fatalities; one person died at the time as a result of a heart attack, possibly due to the quake. A foreshock just minutes before had cut the power supply and many people had moved away from heavy machinery and out of their houses. The largest aftershock was measured at 5.2 and struck at 1.52 pm.

A crack 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) long opened in the Rangitaiki Plains near Edgecumbe as a result of the earthquake. It is now known as the 'Edgecumbe Fault'. At one point, the land close to the fault dropped 2 metres (6.6 ft).

The epicentre of the quake was approximately 2.24 kilometres (1.39 mi) south-south-east of the town of Matata, or 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) north-north-west of Edgecumbe. The intense ground shaking caused by the earthquake led to a large number of ground surface failures, including sand boils, ridge-top shatters and debris avalanches on steeper slopes. Because of the 1987 Edgecumbe earthquake many people left and therefore Edgecumbe's population dropped considerably. Edgecumbe is slowly recovering as it has increased by 21 in the years 2006 to 2013, possibly due to many orchards being affected by PSA.

Geography

Edgecumbe is located inland from the coast on the end of the fertile Rangitaiki Plains. The nearby beach is part of Maketu. The volcanic cone of Mount Edgecumbe, 15 kilometres to the south and close to the town of Kawerau, is visible from Edgecumbe.

Attractions

Fonterra Dairy Factory

Established in 1915, the Edgecumbe Dairy Factory is one of the oldest dairy factories still running in New Zealand. The factory currently employs 358 people, accounting for roughly 1/5 of Edgecumbe's total population.

Edgecumbe College

Edgecumbe College is located at 100 College Rd, Edgecumbe.

Clubs and organizations

The Association Football Club Plains Rangers AFC is based at the Edgecumbe Domain, along with rugby and hockey.

The Edgecumbe Volunteer Fire Brigade is located on SH2 and services the township and surrounding area.

Edgecumbe has a long established rugby football club

Kartsport has its Eastern Bay of Plenty track at Edgecumbe

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