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Township 28 km south-east of Hāwera. Founded as a military outpost in 1865, Pātea was originally named Carlyle. In 1881, when the name was changed, the town was the main settlement in southern Taranaki and its river port was one of the busiest in the region exporting cheese, wool, meat and flax. Established in 1883, Pātea’s meat-freezing works were the economic basis of the town for a century. They closed in 1982 and a dire future was predicted for the town. The Pātea Māori Club’s 1984 hit song ‘Poi e’ drew nationwide attention to the town.
Meaning of place name
The town is named after the river. Turi, the captain of the Aotea canoe, reached the parara ki te uru (river facing the west). As he and his followers threw down their burdens (pātea) he named the place, in full, Pāteanui-a-Turi; pātea: burden or pack; nui: great; a: of; Turi.