Topic: Tararu History
Tararu has strong connections back to the migration of the Tainui people to New Zealand and was settled by Maori. In Marutuahau times, Tararu was the scene of Te Apurangi's successful acceptance of a Ngapuhi challenge.
Known by Maori from a nearby mountain, Tararu, the European township laid out in 1868 took this name. The flat areas on the sides of the Tararu River provided suitable landing sites for early boats coming to the Thames goldfield. Increasing demand for mutton and beef to meet the needs of growing numbers on the Thames goldfield, led to the construction of a deeper wharf at Tararu Point (Wilson Street) by Robert Graham.
A tramway was formally opened in 1871 stretching from Grahamstown to Tararu and the wharf. This also extended up the Tararu valley servicing the mines. On the flats at the northern end, a racecourse was built. Up to 5,000 visitors would use the rising spur as a natural grandstand. Pleasure gardens were also laid out by Mr Graham and became very well known, in the area that is now Dickson Holiday Park. By 1872 a road was formed on the chain railway easement, given by local Maori, from Grahamstown to Tararu.
In 1874 the wharf was badly damaged by a severe gale. It had been used by large vessels for goods and passengers. The tramway was also undermined by the storm. It had been used mainly for goods and ore, including ore for processing in the Tararu batteries coming from Thames mines. Never a top gold-producing area, with a lot of ore that was hard to process, and with its importance as an entry port gone, Tararu settled down as a residential area for Thames and remains so today.