Town on the Waimarino plain, 89 km north-east of Whanganui. It was founded in 1892 on the Waimarino block, which the government bought in 1887. Until the main trunk railway reached Ohakune in 1907, Raetihi was reached via the Whanganui River and a dray road built from Pipiriki in 1893. A branch railway line was built to the town in 1917. In March 1918, massive forest fires destroyed pasture, stock, sawmills and property, and caused three deaths. But sawmilling thrived until the 1930s – over 20 mills operated in the district in the mid-1920s. Pastoral farming and market gardening have been the mainstay of Raetihi’s economy since the 1930s, but have not stimulated growth. Pat O’Connor, the world heavyweight wrestling champion from 1959 to 1961, was from Raetihi.

Meaning of place name
Rae: headland; tihi: summit. It was first intended to call the township Makotuku, after the river here, but there was an existing place of that name in Hawke's Bay. It seems the surveyor took the name Raetihi from the prominent hill just to the north-east of Ohakune - the first of the central volcanic foothills.

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