Patea is the second-largest town in South Taranaki, New Zealand. It is located on the western bank of the Patea River, 55 kilometres north-west of Wanganui on State Highway 3, and had a 2001 population of 1302. The town’s name is pronounced approximately as „pah-tay-uh“.
The European town called Patea, originally named Carlyle, was situated closer to the river mouth than is the main part of the present town.
During the New Zealand land wars Patea was an important military settlement. General Cameron’s force arrived at the mouth of the Patea River on 15 January 1865 and constructed redoubts on both sides of the river.
With the eventual end of hostilities, Patea grew into a Market town. The first of the sections on the present town site were sold in 1870. A local shipping company was established in 1872, and harbour improvements begun.
The railway from Wanganui to Hawera via Patea was completed in March 1885. The Carlyle Town Board, created about 1877 to administer town affairs, was succeeded by a borough council constituted on 13 October 1881 under the earlier locality name of Patea.
The town came to national attention in the second half of the 20th century for the closure of the main employer, under Labour lead reforms, the Patea Freezing Works. However Patea was catapulted to fame in the 1980s as the home of singer Dalvanius Prime and the Patea Māori Club. Their single, „Poi E“, was an early indicator of renewed impetus in contemporary Māori popular music.
The Freezing Works
In the early 1880s the predecessor to the Patea Freezing Works was established on the eastern bank of the Patea River. Cool stores for handling dairy produce followed in 1901 with later additions evolving into what became known as the Patea Freezing Co-Op and South Taranaki’s primary employer.
Strategic reforms implemented the closing of the processing plant, inefficiencies and nationwide over processing lead to its demise when finally – after 100 years of operation in September of 1982 – the Patea freezing Works finally closed her doors leaving a once thriving township bereft of staple employment. In February 2008 – the old site suffered massive and extensive fires
The current town
Patea has retained a strong community focus and enjoys many services. This includes a well resourced Medical Centre, public swimming pool and trust-owned Rest Home.
Patea LibraryPlus is open 5 days a week, offering Council services as well as full library facilities.
A few miles east of Patea is the small community of Whenuakura where New Zealand golfer Michael Campbell lived as a child. He learned to play golf at the Patea Golf Club which sits on the cliffs overlooking the Tasman Sea. He crowned his professional career by winning the US Open in June 2005, and three months later, the HSBC World Match Play Championship which carries the richest prize in golf, £1,000,000.
Patea is the proclaimed birthplace of South Taranaki.Coordinates: 39°45′S, 174°29′E.
Source: Wikipedia, 2. South Taranaki District Council Heritage files