Birthday bash for Kawerau's 60th | News | Kawerau

Birthday bash for Kawerau’s 60th

28 March 2014

One of New Zealand’s youngest towns celebrates 60 years of existence this weekend.

In April, 1954, the Kawerau Borough was created although the oldest inhabitants of the district were descendants of Toi Kai Rakau who arrived in New Zealand about the year 1150.

Sulphur had been mined from nearby Onepu since about 1886 and, in 1953, Kawerau was founded as a mill town for the new Tasman pulp and paper mill – the first building erected was a toilet.

Since then, Kawerau has had its fair share of the good and the bad, it’s been dragged into national headlines for unemployment, teen pregnancy, suicide and gangs – but spend time in the town and you’ll be hard-pressed to find people more passionate about the area in which they live. Ngati Tuwharetoa ki Kawerau Trust chief executive social services arm Chris Marjoribanks is one of those people.

“The town has had its setbacks but has endured them,” he said.

“We’ve had paper machines closures, we had the earthquake and things like that – but what happened was that people stepped in and worked together … I have no doubt the town has a bright future.”

Celebrations will open with a powhiri at Rautahi Marae tomorrow and close with a barbecue at the town’s free thermal hot pools. Scheduled are musical performances, a Top Club demonstration, generation games, happy hour and an open mic session to tell “stories of Kawerau”, dinner and a show (sold out), town tours, a combined church service, a retailers’ reunion and other activities.