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The oldest inland town in Hawke’s Bay, Waipawa was founded on the banks of the Waipawa River by runholder Frederick Abbott in 1860. The town, originally named Abbottsford, was located next to a ford in the river. Settlers preferred its Māori name, Waipawa. Te Tapairu pā was established near the town in 1872. Unlike Waipukurau, Waipawa was soon surrounded by many smaller farms that supported its growth. However, from the early 20th century its population lagged behind Waipukurau.
Meaning of place name
Several meanings can be applied, the most popular being Smoky water: wai: water; pawa (or paoa): smoky. Originally known as Abbotsford, there was a town of the same name near Dunedin, so a namechange was necessary.

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