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Temuka facts for kids

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Country New Zealand
Region Canterbury
Territorial authority Timaru District
Ward Pleasant Point-Temuka
 • Total 8.35 km2 (3.22 sq mi)
15 m (49 ft)
 (June 2020)
 • Total 4,660
 • Density 558.1/km2 (1,445.4/sq mi)
Area code(s) 03
Temuka and the Opihi River
Temuka and the Opihi River. The photo was taken from an Air New Zealand ATR-72 flight from Christchurch to Invercargill

Temuka is a town on New Zealand's Canterbury Plains, 15 kilometres north of Timaru and 142 km south of Christchurch. It is located at the centre of a rich sheep and dairy farming region, for which it is a service town. It lies on the north bank of the Temuka River, just above its confluence with the Opihi River.

Temuka is the second largest town in South Canterbury after Timaru. Temuka is home to three schools, two primary schools and one secondary school. Temuka is accessed by New Zealand's State Highway Number 1 and the Main South Line railway allowing for major cargo handling. Temuka is north of the Opihi and Temuka rivers. The local secondary school, Opihi College, takes its name from the Opihi River. Both rivers are popular with locals and tourists. Almost all traffic passing north or south goes through or around Temuka. Temuka has recently had the redevelopment of the local Domain by incorporating a skate park to join the other facilities which include a swimming pool, mini golf, golf, netball, outdoor bowls and tennis. There are also rugby and football fields, a stadium complex and a holiday park.


At one time it supported wool scouring plants, it had a flour mill and manufactured electric power transmission insulators. The name Te umu kaha (original spelling) means long-lasting ovens, from the earth ovens that Māori people used to cook the plentifully-growing cabbage trees. Temuka was a stop on the Main South Line until passenger services were discontinued.


Temuka is described by Statistics New Zealand as a small urban area. It covers 8.35 km2 (3.22 sq mi) and had an estimated population of 4,660 as of June 2020, with a population density of 558 people per km2.

Historical population
Year Pop. ±% p.a.
2006 4,245 —    
2013 4,254 +0.03%
2018 4,470 +1.00%

Temuka had a population of 4,470 at the 2018 New Zealand census, an increase of 216 people (5.1%) since the 2013 census, and an increase of 225 people (5.3%) since the 2006 census. There were 1,911 households. There were 2,205 males and 2,265 females, giving a sex ratio of 0.97 males per female, with 789 people (17.7%) aged under 15 years, 678 (15.2%) aged 15 to 29, 1,917 (42.9%) aged 30 to 64, and 1,083 (24.2%) aged 65 or older.

Ethnicities were 90.0% European/Pākehā, 12.1% Māori, 1.5% Pacific peoples, 3.5% Asian, and 1.7% other ethnicities (totals add to more than 100% since people could identify with multiple ethnicities).

The proportion of people born overseas was 10.2%, compared with 27.1% nationally.

Although some people objected to giving their religion, 50.3% had no religion, 39.0% were Christian, 0.7% were Hindu, 0.1% were Muslim, 0.1% were Buddhist and 1.1% had other religions.

Of those at least 15 years old, 228 (6.2%) people had a bachelor or higher degree, and 1,260 (34.2%) people had no formal qualifications. The employment status of those at least 15 was that 1,749 (47.5%) people were employed full-time, 495 (13.4%) were part-time, and 81 (2.2%) were unemployed.

Individual statistical areas
Name Area (km2) Population Density (per km2) Households Median age Median income
Temuka West 4.07 2,163 531 957 49.2 years $26,800
Temuka East 4.30 2,307 537 954 43.9 years $29,600
New Zealand 37.4 years $31,800


Temuka is home to a very large trucking company; Temuka Transport. This company is hired throughout South Canterbury and has about 40 trucks which are used to service the South Canterbury area. Also located in the town is; Temuka Homeware. This company produces ceramic crockery. Currently, the older and traditional items are undergoing an increase of demand from collectors and the accompanying industry. Located in Temuka are many businesses, supermarkets, takeaways, collectors, hardware stores, office supply stores, art galleries, and others. Temuka is home to New Zealand Insulators (NZI), the major supplier of Insulators to New Zealand's power industry. Temuka Houses NZI's corporate Headquarters, South Island warehouse and Temuka factory. Temuka is also home to the only bagpipe bag manufacturing business in New Zealand, Gannaway New Zealand, manufacturing cowhide, goatskin and sheepskin bagpipe bags exported worldwide.


There are currently three primary and secondary schools in Temuka.

Temuka Primary School is a contributing primary for years 1 to 6 with a roll of 239 students. A public school for both primary and secondary students opened in 1866, and moved to the current site in the late 1870s. The secondary school moved to a separate site in 1968.

St. Joseph's School is a Catholic state-integrated full primary for years 1 to 8 with a roll of 111 students. The school opened in 1883.

Opihi College is a secondary school for years 7 to 13 with a roll of 283 students. It was originally called Temuka District High School, then Temuka High School when it moved to its current site, and in 2005 the name was changed to Opihi College.

All these schools are coeducational. Rolls are as of July 2016.

Notable residents

  • Rachel Armitage (1873–1955), welfare worker
  • Ned Barry (1905–1993), rugby union player
  • John Lister (born 1947), professional golfer
  • Richard Pearse (1877–1953), aviation pioneer
  • Jeremiah Twomey (1847–1921), member of the New Zealand Legislative Council
  • Lachie Grant (1923–2002), rugby union player

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