Ōtaki, 20km south-west of Levin, was a site of contact between Māori and Europeans. The missionary Octavius Hadfield and Ngāti Toa chief Te Rauparaha together organised the building of the Rangiātea Church, opened in 1851. Otaki is home to Te Wānanga o Raukawa, New Zealand’s first Māori tertiary educational institution, or wānanga (house of instruction), founded in 1981.

Meaning of place name
The name originated with the tohunga Haupipi-a-nanaia, who was on his way southwards in search of his wife. It may refer to Hau striking his staff into the ground; or, symbolically, to making a speech; or to an indication that he wished to rest there.