Western Bay of Plenty region of New Zealand.
The future of Te Puke looks bright.
The main street is thriving as a boutique retail area with shoppers coming from all over the Bay to enjoy the friendly service and easy parking. Real estate sales are at an all time high. One of the social highlights of the year is the kiwifruit Festival which is organised by Focus Te Puke and the Kiwifruit Queen is crowned.
Focus Te Puke also run a Xmas Parade and people from miles around come to see the "red gentleman" and his helpers. Sports and cultural groups abound in the area, and Te Puke is theatrically know as the cultural seed bed of the Bay. The current population of the town is 7150 (2006 census) and including surrounding district numbers approximately 9240 (including Maketu, Paengaroa, Upper Papamoa, Rangiuru, Pongakawa and Pukehina). Te Puke is twelve minutes drive from Papamoa which has a population of (2006 census) 13450.
History and facts of the area
Around 1350, the Te Arawa canoe is said to have landed at Maketu after sailing from Hawaiki. The canoe was under the command of chief Tamatekapua, and members of the party were responsible for many original place names of the area. Maori ventured up the rivers and streams and built many pa in the area.
Lieutenant (Later Captain) James Cook, the first documented European to visit the area, sailed between Motiti Island and the coast in 1769. This was his first voyage to New Zealand, but he did not land here. Cook named the area the Bay of Plenty as he observed that it was well populated and looked very fertile. In 1830 Danish sailor Philip Tapsell, also known as Hans Homman Felk, settled at Maketu and operated as a trader. Church Missionary Society missionaries arrived shortly afterwards and established mission stations at Te Papa (Tauranga) and at Rotorua. After the land wars began to ease in the 1860s, European settlers began to move to the Bay of Plenty though not in great numbers.
Maketu, however was a thriving village with a school, post office, and hotel and in 1869, an Anglican church. In 1876 surveying of the Te Puke Block commenced but it was not until 1879 that the survey was completed as the Native Land Court needed to complete their investigation of Maori titles for the land. Demand for land in the Tauranga area increased and the Tauranga Working Men’s Land Association was formed in 1877. Forty eight members petitioned the government for 4000 acres of the Te Puke block under the deferred-payment system. At the same time George Vesey Stewart applied to the government to bring settlers from Great Britain to the Te Puke block as he had already successfully done in Katikati.