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Taihape
Minor urban area
Taihape Town Hall.JPG
Country New Zealand
Region Manawatu-Wanganui
Territorial authority Rangitikei District
early settlement pre-European
Taihape 1894
Named for Shortened form of Ōtaihape.
Population (June 2016)
 • Total 1,670
Postcode 4720
Area code(s) 06

Taihape is located near the middle of the North Island in the Rangitikei District of New Zealand. It services a large rural community and lies on State Highway 1, which runs North to South through the centre of the North Island.

Geography

Taihape is near the confluence of the Hautapu and Rangitikei rivers about 500 m (1500 ft) above sea level. It lies in a sheltered valley among the high country of the central North Island, close to the Rangitikei River and the Ruahine Ranges. Despite its transport links. Few towns in New Zealand have a steeper street profile, which provides spectacular views across to the Ruahine Ranges. It is surrounded by fertile high country utilised for sheep and deer farming. Its location close to the mountains, rivers and lakes has made it ideal as a service point for hunting and outdoor tourism. The town is at the southern edge of the volcanic plateau.

Transport routes in and out of Taihape have improved over the years. What were once twisting and treacherous roads through the high country, State Highway 1 is now an easy and fast set of deviations through the hills to Mangaweka in the south and Waiouru to the north. The Taihape Road - once known as "Gentle Annie" - provides an efficient link into Hawke's Bay, ending between Napier and Hastings. Now fully paved, this route is both efficient and time saving when compared with the current main routes.

Climate

Taihape's climate is temperate. There is significant rainfall throughout the year in Taihape. According to the Köppen climate classification, this climate is classified as oceanic climate (Cfb). The average annual temperature is 11.5 °C and about 953 mm of precipitation falls annually.

Climate data for Taihape
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 21.6
(70.9)
21.8
(71.2)
19.8
(67.6)
16.9
(62.4)
13.7
(56.7)
11.2
(52.2)
10.5
(50.9)
11.4
(52.5)
13.3
(55.9)
15.5
(59.9)
17.6
(63.7)
19.8
(67.6)
16.1
(61)
Daily mean °C (°F) 16.4
(61.5)
16.6
(61.9)
14.9
(58.8)
12.2
(54)
9.4
(48.9)
7.2
(45)
6.4
(43.5)
7.3
(45.1)
9.1
(48.4)
11.0
(51.8)
12.8
(55)
14.9
(58.8)
11.5
(52.7)
Average low °C (°F) 11.3
(52.3)
11.4
(52.5)
10.1
(50.2)
7.6
(45.7)
5.2
(41.4)
3.3
(37.9)
2.4
(36.3)
3.2
(37.8)
4.9
(40.8)
6.6
(43.9)
8.1
(46.6)
10.0
(50)
7.0
(44.6)
Rainfall mm (inches) 78
(3.07)
59
(2.32)
77
(3.03)
64
(2.52)
88
(3.46)
88
(3.46)
90
(3.54)
78
(3.07)
80
(3.15)
79
(3.11)
72
(2.83)
100
(3.94)
953
(37.52)
Source: Climate-data.org

History

Iconic old house, south of Taihape
Iconic old house, south of Taihape

The Taihape region was originally inhabited by local Maori tribes who settled the area well before the arrival of Europeans; descendants of these tribes still live in the area. The first record of a European to the region is William Colenso's visit in 1845. In 1884, the surveyor's party for the Main Trunk railway line cut a rough track through the district.

The town was founded in 1894, when European settlers arrived from Canterbury in the South Island. The site of the town was a small natural clearing in dense native bush, which the first settlers set about clearing. Many of the original families have descendants still living in the area. The settlement was first called Hautapu after the local river, then Otaihape ("the place of Tai the Hunchback"), and finally Taihape.

Before the establishment of the railway, the bulk of farming produce (wool) had to be transported east by horse and bullock cart to Napier, from where it was exported. Until the establishment of roads and railways in the early 1900s, Taihape, like other rural towns, remained largely an isolated pioneer settlement. It developed as a key railway and transport town, reaching its peak of population and activity during the heyday of the 1950s and 1960s. The town declined during the downturn of the 1980s and today it is largely a refreshment stop for travellers and a service point for the local farming community.

In 2005 Taihape's primary and secondary schools amalgamated to form Taihape Area School due to the declining numbers of students in both schools.

People

As of a June 2016, Taihape is home to 1,670 people. Population peaked at around 3,500 in the late 1960s, but declined in parallel with many other rural towns after that time. The town has two main schools St Joseph's Catholic School established in 1916, and the Taihape Area School.

Fame

Taihape is home of the annual Gumboot Day, first celebrated on 9 April 1985. This festival was devised by local business people who decided to capitalise on its rural image.

Entertainer John Clarke used Taihape as a location for his Fred Dagg comedy persona.

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