Our History

Your Marae in the heart of Mangakino

Our History

Label In 1896, (after 40 years of resistance) the Crown acquired the Wairarapa Lakes from Ngati Kahungunu and in 1915, gave in return, land in middle North Island, land known as part of the Pouakani Block. At that time the land where Mangakino lies today was described as native bush and pumice wastelands, barren, unoccupied and unfarmed.

In 1946, as the Karapiro Dam neared completion, workers were to transfer to the next dam construction site Maraetai I, near Mangakino. The Crown, under the Public Works Act, reacquired a portion of the unoccupied Pouakani Block alongside the Waikato River to build a hydroelectric station, and a temporary township, Mangakino, was established to house the hundreds of construction workers needed. The town was only ever meant to be there on a temporary basis until the completion of the proposed dams. Consecutively in the 1940s, 50s and 60s Maraetai I, Whakamaru, Waipapa, Atiamuri & Maraetai II were all built by a workforce based in Mangakino. Small villages were also built at Maraetai, Waipapa, Whakamaru and Atiamuri to house the permanent workforce who were to run the power stations.

With the advancement of computer technology only a small number of permanent staff are now needed and are employed by Mighty River Power the current Dam owners. Waipapa and Maraetai villages were disbanded, the houses removed, the land converted back into forestry and farmland, the old crumbling roads remain a tell-tale sign of their former existence. Whakamaru and Atiamuri Villages remain close-knit little communities set in picturesque surroundings; their handy proximity to the larger urban centres makes them popular for both permanent residents and holidaymakers as satellite villages.

In September 1946 the Mangakino Primary School consisted of a large hut containing one teacher and 13 pupils, post-primary students travelled daily to school in Putaruru. A Mangakino District High School was built in 1948 and by 1954 held the record for the largest student population in New Zealand . In its heyday Mangakino boasted extensive municipal facilities including; a cinema, billards room, library, concert hall, gymnasium, bowling club, rugby club and extensive sports fields, some of which still exist today.

Mangakinos population in 1960 was quoted at 5,588 residents, but by early 1963 it dropped dramatically following the completion of Maraetai II, falling to 2,348. Today, (in 2005) the population has stabilised at around 1,250 people.

Following the progressive completion of the dams, homes were moved off the land and southern streets were converted back into farmland. The town itself was shrinking significantly but people were still keen to remain living there. Subsequently in 1957 the Mangakino Township Incorporation was formed to deal with land matters, and later administrate leases for the sections. By 1961 the number of houses in Mangakino had been reduced from 1,100 to 600. By 1970 the Ministry of Works had completely withdrawn, and Mangakino was locally governed by the Taupo County Council (now called the Taupo District Council).