Tapawera, from the maori 'Tapa' (forest edge) and 'wera' (hot/burnt) is a relatively small town in rural Tasman district with a population of approximately 600 in the town and surrounding area. It is located about 40 kms south-west of Nelson in the beautiful Motueka Valley, approximately 8 kms north of the SH6 Kohatu Junction. The town centre has our Kahurangi Gateway Unity Landmark, an information centre, museum, church, area school, supermarket, NZ Post, campground, fuel and auto-repair, hotel/pub/restaurant, cafe/take-away and supplies shop. There are also many other clubs/organisations and businesses in and around the broader Tapawera district.
History: Following the 1859 survey by Von Hoechstetter, a workable gold field was discovered at the Wangapeka by Pilkington, James and Griffith. The discovery of a quartz reef by Culliford started the subsequent gold rush in 1869, and the Wangapeka township with a population of 250 emerged at Courthouse Flat. A five stamper battery was built in 1871 to crush the ore but the yield was pitifully low. With the onset of the depression in 1932, more claims were taken up at Rolling River, however the mining continued to be unprofitable. Today, the original township has all but vanished but Cullifords Battery and much of the equipment still lies alongside the walking tracks of Blue Creek and Nuggety Walk.
Tapawera today: Tapawera is currently a prime producer of blackcurrants, berries and hops, as well as dairy, beef and sheep. Surrounded by stunning scenery, trout-filled rivers and national parks, tourism is also rapidly growing in and around the local area.
Kahurangi National Park: Our neighbour the Kahurangi National Park was formerly known as North-West Nelson Forest Park (1965 - 1996), and for many years Tapawera was largely a Forestry town, with New Zealand Forest Service operating an area headquarters in Tapawera. Today the buildings are largely unused, and although the forestry activities continue all around, Tapawera itself has evolved into a growing modern community with a diverse local economy.
Our Gateway landmark, featuring the unity of the Kahurangi explorer Thomas Brunner and his lifelong friend and Maori guide E Kehu, was installed on 25 October 2014 in the village centre and is comprised of a beautiful carved Gateway surrounded by native timber seating and with native Kahurangi plants bordering the site ... a little taster of the jewel that is the Kahurangi.