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The following aspects are covered under this theme in the Waikato District Blueprint.

Waikato River Corridor

It is proposed that the district’s identity be strengthened, based on a stronger identity of the Waikato and Waipa rivers.

Iwi Significance of the River Corridor

The Waikato River is called Tooku Awa Koiora - the river of life, each curve more beautiful than the last. This could form the basis for appropriate forms of cultural tourism in the river corridor. This idea would need to be championed by Waikato Tainui.

Walking and cycling trails and routes along the rivers

The significance of the river corridor for the district could be strengthened through a network of walking and cycling trails and routes along the Waikato and Waipa rivers.

Local identity of the river towns

Under the umbrella of the district’s identity based on the river corridor, the local identity of the individual settlements could be built and strengthened. This could be done through signage, interpretation panels linked with web-based information, branding and public art, or a large icon located along the river.

A number of initiatives are proposed under this theme of Identity. These include:

Build a strong river corridor identity

This could be defined by:

  • The River Towns
  • Special Iwi significance
  • Paa routes
  • Cycle linkages
  • River activities
  • Other cultural heritage (mining, wine research, energy, horticulture etc.)
  • Identify heritage areas with explanation plaque, map, website
  • Engage heritage groups for local signage to identify heritage items, walkways, marae, MSOs/MAOs, recreation areas to stop/picnic
  • Signage You Are Here maps at information centres/ town centres
  • Give each town a theme/draw card/signature, which could be heritage related, but not necessarily
  • Consider locating an icon in each town along the river, which could serve as a photo opportunity.

Build the identity of each town under the umbrella of the entire district


  • Tuakau: Sir Edmund Hillary, trading centre for passing waka
  • Pokeno: Dairy, markets, ice cream, bacon
  • Mercer: Tourism, wine, cheese, skydiving
  • Meremere: Power station, motorsport, 
  • Te Kauwhata: Viticulture, Whangamarino wetlands
  • Rangiriri: Rangiriri Paa
  • Ohinewai: Ferry landing
  • Huntly (Ranui-Pookeka): Lakes, power, mining, bricks, arts, rugby league
  • Taupiri: Taupiri maunga, sawmill, flaxmill
  • Ngaruawahia (Ngaaruawaahia): Te Kiingitanga, confluence of the Waipa and Waikato Rivers,  Hakarimata Ranges
  • Horotiu: Maaori gardens, business park
  • Te Kowhai: Airpark
  • Whatawhata: AgResearch, coal mining, peach trees
  • Tamahere: Gully network, Wiremu Tamehana, markets
  • Matangi: Matangi Factory
  • Raglan (Whaingaroa): Nature, regeneration, environmental, the arts, surfing.

Strengthen cycling and walking trails along the river corridor

This could include:

  • Promote existing trails
  • Review trails strategy, add missing local links, then prioritise
  • Programme to source funding
  • Secure key links with landowners
  • Parks and Reserves at WDC could lead through the Community Connections Team with key inputs from Communications.

Promote cultural tourism in the river corridor

This would need to be championed by Waikato-Tainui and may include:

  • Waka journeys
  • Controlled visits to cultural sites
  • Culturally appropriate learning experiences
  • Way-finding and icon sculptures – on cultural themes { Basic weaving (as a way to teach Maths, Physics and Environmental Science)
  • Environmental appreciation (translating into environmental management, restoration and recovery, park ranging and interpretation guides training and job opportunities).