Tuesday September 12, 2006: Ike Miratana loves Waikawa Beach.
Walking around one of the jewels in Horowhenua’s geographical crown his eyes light up when discussing the many features that make the area so special.
His family own a dairy farm in the beach area supplying milk to Fonterra as well as growing pine trees.
They have another section of land which is used as a run-off block and could be opened for development at some stage.
Mr Miratana, from the local Ngati Wehiwehi iwi, said most people came to the area because it had a nice climate and it wasn’t overcrowded.
He reckoned the population was about 200-300 though many didn’t live there permanently and only came out in the weekends from cities like Wellington and Palmerston North.
Numbers in the area were growing especially with two new subdivisions sprouting up called Waikawa Heights and Strathnaver Glen.
One of the newest residents was former All Black skipper Tana Umaga who is having a house built at Strathnaver Glen.
Mr Miratana’s seen Umaga once or twice and good-naturedly described him as looking a bit like a hobo.
“He’s a dag. A hell of a nice bloke. You’d never pick him out as being the All Blacks captain. He’s really down to earth.”
He said the community was full of good people who were conscious of protecting the environment especially as it was one of five areas in the whole world that has got toheroas.
“Everyone is friendly and willing to help. There’s a good cross section of people living here.”
The area had a lot to offer for people especially those interested in the outdoors with a number of good walking tracks, excellent fishing, fantastic coastline and safe swimming areas.
Summer time saw many attracted to the area to relax along the coastline.
“Come here at Christmas time and you can’t move because there’s so many people here.”
And each year around February time Ngati Wehiwehi and Tu Koreke people would stay for a few days or more and canoe race at the water’s edge.
Resident Erica Wyatt said it was a nice tidy community with caring people.
She said it appealed because it was a quiet place with no shops and that not a lot of people knew about it.
“It’s the best kept secret in New Zealand and we want it to stay that way really.”
Before heading out for a run Mike Bentley, pictured, was asked what he liked about Waikawa Beach. He said the area was head and shoulders above other local seaside areas.
“It’s the best on the coast by far. It’s just different with its vast barren areas, beautiful beachline and great sand dunes.”
The local resident who rents and works in the area said it was great place to live and holiday.
- Waikawa means bitter or sour water. Wai means water and kawa means bitter.
- From 1821 to 1823 famous Maori chief Te Rauparaha leads NgatiToa migration to the Horowhenua which was then dominated by Muaupoko and Ngati Apa. Pa-Te Rauparaha was established along the Waikawa River.
- In late 1840 Thomas and Mary Bevan and their six children leave England on the Lady Nugent for New Zealand. They arrive in Wellington in March 1841 without Mrs Bevan and a two year old son who both died while at sea. Mr Bevan sets up a homestead and rope making business in Waikawa in about 1844.
- Thomas and Ceres Drake and their one-year-old daughter arrived in Wellington from England in January 1840 on the Aurora. Many years later from about 1875 one of their sons Arthur Drake settled into the old Bevan homestead and leased and then bought a large area of land at Waikawa Beach from the Ngati Wehiwehi and became the first European land owning farmer there.
- In April 1888 the four masted iron barque Weatherfield got stranded on shore at Waikawa Beach. It wasn’t until October 1892 when it was finally refloated by diverting the river.
- A German mine was washed up at Waikawa Beach during World War I in 1918. It was destroyed by the Royal New Zealand Navy in an explosion easily heard and felt in Otaki.
- The road to Waikawa Beach from Manakau was metalled in 1920. It still follows the original track.
- Electricity arrives in Waikawa Beach in 1956.
- Waikawa Beach was used as a filming location for many episodes of Close to Home, part of a drama series called The Governor and was in a commercial where a car was catapulted from a large rubber band.
- In 1982 a 50 tonne sperm whale was found dead on the shoreline at Waikawa Beach and had to be cut in two before it was shifted and buried in sand.
By DAVID HAXTON
Source: A Horowhenua-Kapiti Chronicle series celebrating all that is good about life in our region — Tuesday September 12, 2006
Many thanks to Linda Lambess for not only contributing this article from her archives, but also typing it up. See also Waikawa Beach A Favourite Holiday Destination For Levin Couple.