Wairoa is a town in New Zealand’s North Island. It is the northernmost town in the Hawke’s Bay region, and is located on the northern shore of Hawke’s Bay at the mouth of the Wairoa River and to the SouthWest of Mahia Peninsula. It is 118 kilometres northeast of Napier, and 92 kilometres southwest of Gisborne. It is the largest town in the district of Wairoa.
The district (as opposed to the town) has been known historically as ‚Te Wairoa‘. In keeping with the district’s vision of being bilingual by 2040, the use of the phrase ‚Te Wairoa‘ when referring to the district is steadily increasing.
Wairoa is Māori for long water portraying the length of the tranquil river that runs throughout the town.
Wairoa is situated on SH2, which gives connections to Gisborne to the north east and Napier to the south west. It is connected to the Central North Island by SH38 which goes from Wai-O-Tapu via Murupara and Frasertown to Wairoa, and which connects to Rotorua via Te Urewera, and Lake Waikaremoana. It also lies on the Palmerston North-Gisborne railway, though passenger services ceased in 1988 following Cyclone Bola.
The Ruakituri River and the Mahia Peninsula are tourist destinations found in Te Wairoa.
In 1990 Wairoa won the last New Zealand Top Town Final in the original Top Town series and were the reigning champs until the series started again in 2009. Unfortunately due to some confusion with a claim by Greymouth to be the last champions, Wairoa was not eligible for the new top town series and unable to defend their title.
Since 2005, Wairoa has been host to the annual Wairoa Māori Film Festival, New Zealand’s premiere Maori and indigenous film festival, which has hosted film makers from across the nation and around the world. In 2015, the festival began to be hosted in part at the newly revitalised Gaiety Theatre, which had recently been fitted out with one of the world’s most advanced theatre sound systems (9.1).