Settlement 60 km south-east of Pahīatua. Pongaroa is a rural servicing centre. Settled in the 1890s, the town initially supported a timber mill. Once the bush was cleared, the land became sheep and beef cattle country. Pongaroa was the birthplace of Maurice Hugh Frederick Wilkins (1916–2004), who won a Nobel Prize in 1962 for his contribution to the discovery of the structure of DNA. It is also home to Papauma marae, established in 1904.