Our early days

This page aims to give an overview of the people who have called Kuaotunu home, from the original Maori settlers, to the early Europeans, to the present day residents.

Pre-European times

The earliest known people in Kuaotunu were Maori, who gathered food from the sea and built fortifications (pa sites) on strategic hills. 

Gold found in Kuaotunu

In the 1890's gold was discovered in Kuaotunu and the settlement boomed. The once sleepy village grew into three townships, with multiple hotels, churches, boarding houses and other establishments, and a population of over a thousand people.

By 1910 however it had become uneconomic to mine for gold and the boom was over. Kuaotunu slowly resorted to being a small seaside village, with farming becoming a major activity.

The book written by R.A. Simpson, "This is Kuaotunu" (originally published in 1955 and reprinted many times since) gives a great overview of this period of European settlement in Kuaotunu. It contains many photographs depicting the early pioneers who were living in Kuaotunu between 1890 and 1950.

This book is available for purchase at the Kuaotunu Store

Interested in these historical photos?

These photos and several others hang in the Kuaotunu Hall. Contact the Kuaotunu Hall Committee if you would like to arrange access to view them.

Resting in peace

The historic cemetery at Kuaotunu was in use from 1892 to 1943.

Sixty-seven pioneers are buried there, however very few headstones are still standing and the cemetery is now considerably overgrown. 

The cemetery is located at the end of Cemetery Lane. 

From gold mining to anti-mining

In the 1980's advances in gold mining technology resulted in gold mining companies expressing interest in further mining activity in Kuaotunu.

This led to the formation of the Kuaotunu Anti Mining Action Group (KAMAG) who campaigned strongly at that time to prevent any mining activity being undertaken in Kuaotunu. 

The ensuing opposition lasted 15 years and was documented in a feature film called the Z-Nail Gang (read about the film here). 

In recent times the prospect of gold mining in Kuaotunu has resurfaced and KAMAG, with the majority support of the local community, continues to oppose any such activity being consented in this area.

For a list of reports, media articles, personal memoirs etc that offer an interesting insight into Kuaotunu's history