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Main administrative centre for the South Waikato district, 88 km south-east of Hamilton. A farming settlement emerged at Tokoroa in the early twentieth century, but it remained very small due to cobalt deficiency in the soil. However, the pumice land was suitable for exotic forestry, and between 1925 and 1935 radiata pine forests were planted close to Tokoroa. When these forests matured in the 1940s, New Zealand Forest Products (NZFP) began constructing a pulp and paper mill at nearby Kinleith to process the wood. From 1947 Tokoroa grew to house workers building the Kinleith mill 8 km to the south, and to provide accommodation for future staff of the mill. Unusually, the town was developed by a company – NZFP – rather than by the state. The layout of the town, community facilities and even the appearance of the houses were designed to attract and retain a stable workforce. Workers of different nationalities and ethnicities came to live in Tokoroa, creating a distinctive multi-cultural community.
Meaning of place name
Tokoroa takes its name from the surrounding area, shown as Tokoroa Plains on 19th-century maps. Tokoroa was a chief of Ngāti Kahupungapunga, the first tribe in the area. He was killed at the siege of Pōhuturoa, south of the present town of Tokoroa. This battle was one of many that took place when Ngāti Raukawa spread into south Waikato around 1600.