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Tararua District
Territorial authority
Council Chambers and Town Hall, Dannevirke
Council Chambers and Town Hall, Dannevirke
Tararua District.svg
Country New Zealand
Region Manawatū-Whanganui
Wards North Tararua
South Tararua
Formed 1989
Seat Dannevirke
 • Total 4,364.65 km2 (1,685.20 sq mi)
 (June 2020)
 • Total 18,900
 • Density 4.330/km2 (11.215/sq mi)
Time zone UTC+12 (NZST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC+13 (NZDT)
Website Tararua District

The Tararua District is an area near the south-east corner of New Zealand's North Island that is administered by the Tararua District Council. It has a population of 18,900 (June 2020), and an area of 4,364.65 km². The Tararua District Council was created by the amalgamation of the Dannevirke Borough, Eketahuna County Council, Pahiatua Borough Council, Pahiatua County Council and Woodville District Council in the 1989 local government reforms.

The district's northwest boundary runs along the top of the Ruahine Range; its south-east boundary is the Pacific Ocean. The catchment of the Manawatu River generally defines the north and south extremities. The catchment is also the reason the majority of the district is in the Manawatū-Whanganui Region, although traditionally many of the people of the district regard themselves as living in either Hawke's Bay (in the north) or Wairarapa (in the south).

Towns and regional government

The district's chief town is Dannevirke, settled by immigrants from Denmark in the 19th century. It is also the centre for a Community Board. Other towns (from south to north along the main valleys) include Eketahuna and Pahiatua, which have their own Community Boards, and Woodville, Ormondville, and Norsewood. Near the coast are Pongaroa, Herbertville, Akitio, and Alfredton.

While the vast majority (98.42% by land area) of Tararua District is part of the Manawatu-Wanganui Region, a small triangle of rural land (1.58% by land area) north of the Owahanga River in the southeast of the district is part of Wellington Region. According to the 2006 Census this area, known as Mara, has only 3 residents (down from 12 in 1996 and 2001).

"Forty-Mile Bush"

When Europeans settled the area, it was almost entirely forested and was called "Forty-Mile Bush". Industrious clearance has made it a busy pastoral district, although the region close to the Pacific coast is still sparsely populated. The original name lives on in that of the local National Provincial Championship rugby union team, Wairarapa-Bush.


Agriculture is the district's main industry. Other industries include textiles, food processing, and retailing. Commercial forestry is expected to become more important to the district's economy in the next few years.


Tararua District covers 4,364.65 km2 (1,685.20 sq mi) and had an estimated population of 18,900 as of June 2020, with a population density of 4.3 people per km2.

Historical population
Year Pop. ±% p.a.
2006 17,634 —    
2013 16,854 −0.64%
2018 17,943 +1.26%

Tararua District had a population of 17,943 at the 2018 New Zealand census, an increase of 1,089 people (6.5%) since the 2013 census, and an increase of 309 people (1.8%) since the 2006 census. There were 6,996 households. There were 8,916 males and 9,027 females, giving a sex ratio of 0.99 males per female. The median age was 41.8 years (compared with 37.4 years nationally), with 3,876 people (21.6%) aged under 15 years, 2,883 (16.1%) aged 15 to 29, 7,899 (44.0%) aged 30 to 64, and 3,285 (18.3%) aged 65 or older.

Ethnicities were 84.5% European/Pākehā, 24.6% Māori, 1.9% Pacific peoples, 2.7% Asian, and 1.4% other ethnicities. People may identify with more than one ethnicity.

The percentage of people born overseas was 8.7, compared with 27.1% nationally.

Although some people objected to giving their religion, 49.6% had no religion, 36.7% were Christian, 0.3% were Hindu, 0.2% were Muslim, 0.3% were Buddhist and 4.5% had other religions.

Of those at least 15 years old, 1,431 (10.2%) people had a bachelor or higher degree, and 3,897 (27.7%) people had no formal qualifications. The median income was $26,300, compared with $31,800 nationally. 1,374 people (9.8%) earned over $70,000 compared to 17.2% nationally. The employment status of those at least 15 was that 6,459 (45.9%) people were employed full-time, 2,298 (16.3%) were part-time, and 567 (4.0%) were unemployed.

Individual wards
Name Area (km2) Population Density (per km2) Households Median age Median income
North Tararua Ward 2,384.15 9,783 4.10 3,795 42.7 years $26,300
South Tararua Ward 1,980.50 8,157 4.12 3,204 40.9 years $26,300
New Zealand 37.4 years $31,800
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