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Oakura
Country New Zealand
Region Taranaki
District New Plymouth District
Population
 (2013)
 • Total 1,380

Oakura is a small township in New Plymouth District, Taranaki, in the western North Island of New Zealand. It is located on State Highway 45, 15 kilometres south-west of New Plymouth. Okato is 12 km further south-west. The Oakura River flows past the town and into the North Taranaki Bight. To the south is the Kaitake Range, part of Egmont National Park.

The population of Oakura was 1,380 in the 2013 Census, an increase of 21 from 2006.

The Oakura Messenger (TOM) is a monthly publication delivered to all letterboxes in the area. It began in October 2000.

On 5 July 2007 the town was hit by a tornado, which damaged 60 houses.

Oakura is well known for its beach—Oakura Beach. One of only three beaches along the west coast of New Zealand which is north facing, in 2007 it became one of the first Blue Flag accredited beaches in Oceania. Only two others—Fitzroy and East End beach in nearby New Plymouth—received the same award that year. As of 2010, Oakura Beach has retained its blue flag status.

The Oakura River (and therefore Oakura township itself) was named after the female ancestor Akura-matapū of the Kurahaupō waka. Oakura-matapu was the original name of the river, and it literally means "Belonging to Akura-matapū". Akura was married to Okorotua. Ngāti Tairi hapū holds mana whenua in Oakura. Ngāti Tairi belongs to the larger descent group of Ngā Mahanga a Tairi. Ngāti Tairi and Ngā Māhanga a Tairi are a part of the tribe Taranaki. Ngāti Tairi retain their take ahi-kā (rights of ownership) through the marae Oakura Pā beside the southern side of the Oakura River. People have been living in the area of Oakura for hundreds of years.

When war broke out in 1860, Ngāti Tairi as part of Nga Mahanga and Taranaki joined in the offensives against the British. The nearby Tapuae ridge (north of Oakura) was a continual site of conflict. On 4 May 1863 a party of about 40 Māori warriors ambushed a small military party on a coastal road west of the town, killing nine of the 10 soldiers. The revenge attack on the military party, escorting a British defaulter to New Plymouth for trial, reignited hostilities in the Taranaki War.

Amenities and Services

South Road (better known as Surf Highway 45) is Oakura's main street, and most local businesses and services are situated around here.

Features and attractions

Apart from its well-known beach, Oakura's main attraction is Butlers Reef – a bar and music venue that has showcased many well-known New Zealand and international acts, including Dave Dobbyn, Trinity Roots, Gin Wigmore, Katchafire, Supergroove and Jimmy Barnes.

Other places of interest include the township's three parks – Matekai, Corbett and the Shearer Reserve. Also, within five minutes drive south west is Lucy's Gully, a popular beauty spot in the Kaitake ranges.

Koru is a historic reserve situated 3 km south-east of Oakura township. Thought to be one of the first Māori settlements in Taranaki, Māori tradition recognises that it may have been built as early as 1000AD by Nga Mahanga a Tairi, a hapū of the Taranaki iwi.

Ringcraft Moana is a manufacturing jewellery business with showroom, garden and a large pearl collection of abalone pearls. The Wavehaven, on Surf Highway 45 just south of Oakura, offers accommodation and access to surfing beaches.

Once a year Oakura's artists are opening up their studios to the public in a two weekend event. The Oakura Arts Trail can be found online

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