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Largest town in Central Hawke’s Bay, 49 km south-west of Hastings. Waipukurau is named after a Māori pā, which was located nearby. The town of Waipukurau was founded by pastoral runholder Henry Russell as a model village in the 1860s. He envisaged a town containing a few well-to-do families, a group of tradesmen and artisans, and a parson. Russell retained ownership of the town sections, which he leased to residents (they were later made freehold). Residents were carefully selected and Russell approved plans before houses were built. He built community facilities, commercial buildings and small workers’ cottages. Growth of the town was restricted because it was surrounded by large pastoral stations. Most were broken up into smaller blocks by the Liberal government from the 1890s, which allowed the town to develop and business numbers to grow. A freezing works opened in 1889, and other industries such as flax processing and sawmilling followed. Waipukurau thrived during the post-Second World War agricultural boom.
Meaning of place name
Wai: water; pukurau: a large white fungus that still grows in the area. Pukurau was resorted to when food was scarce, and eaten after being soaked in water.