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Otaki, New Zealand facts for kids

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Phot of Otaki Beach with Kapiti Island in the distance
Otaki Beach with Kapiti Island in the distance
 • Total 5,778

Otaki is a town in the Kapiti Coast District of the North Island of New Zealand, situated half way between the capital city Wellington, 70 kilometres to the southwest, and Palmerston North, 70 kilometres to the northeast. It is located on New Zealand State Highway 1 and the North Island Main Trunk railway between Wellington and Auckland and marks the northernmost point of the Wellington Region. The construction of the Kapiti Expressway and the Transmission Gully Motorway are currently underway and will cut traveling times to Wellington.

In the 2013 census the town's population was 5,778, a slight increase since the 2006 census.

The town is sited close to the banks of the Otaki River, 4 kilometres from its outflow into the Tasman Sea. There are recreational walks and cycling along the river and north of the mouth of the river is Otaki Beach. The safe sandy beach is popular as a swimming and fishing destination.

The surrounding district includes Te Horo and Manakau with its beach settlement at Waikawa Beach. The district is agricultural, with market gardens and lifestyle blocks. The economy of the town includes service industries for the rural community, outlet retail which is a destination for shoppers from Wellington and Palmerston North, and clean technology businesses with an emphasis on waste management. The local paper is the Otaki Mail.

Otaki is home to Te Wānanga o Raukawa a Tikanga Māori university. It also hosts the annual Maoriland Film Festival and Otaki Kite Festival.

Otaki Forks is the western gateway to the Tararua Forest Park. It offers recreational activities ranging from short walks, swimming, rafting and kayaking to advanced tramps of 3 – 5 days duration, including the Southern Crossing that ends at Kaitoke 45 km northeast of Wellington.

Since the early 19th century, the area has been home to Māori of the Ngati Raukawa iwi who had migrated from the Kāwhia area from about 1819, under the leadership of Te Rauparaha. They had supplanted the Rangitāne and Muaūpoko people.

At the request of Te Rauparaha, missionaries Henry Williams and Octavius Hadfield visited the area in December and Hadfield opened the first mission in the Wellington Region at Otaki. At the nearby Raukawa marae is the Rangiātea Church, the original of which was completed in 1851. Burnt down in 1995, it was completely rebuilt by 2003.

Inland from the township is the Otaki Racecourse, home of the Otaki Maori Racing Club since 1886.

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