Tararua, New Zealand
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What to See

Polish Memorial - click to enlarge

POLISH MEMORIAL (pictured above)

SWEET FOODS - 150 Main St, Pahiatua. Confectionery factory shop, 8am - 5pm Monday - Friday


LIKE ALL main towns strung from north to south through Wairarapa and Tararua, Pahiatua has its own truly distinct character.

Travellers from the north head to the town via Mangatainoka. Shortly thereafter they find a yellow World War II ‘Harvard’ closing in on them. It’s a sure sign the motorist has reached Pahiatua, former stamping ground of PM Sir Keith Holyoake.

If they head in from the south they pass by the simple Polish memorial, like some giant white dinosaur bone, beside the road. This marks the site of a Polish children’s camp begun in 1944. Originally the Pahiatua racecourse, this camp was a home for 733 children, wartime refugees from Poland till the camp was closed in 1952.

Whenever the sun shines on this monument its shadow resembles a mother and child. The yellow Harvard became a children’s slide, part of a playground in the centre of the main street. The town as a whole is divided into two one-way systems with lawns, flowerbeds and shrubs dividing them.

This layout was devised at a time when planners believed the railway would pass through Pahiatua town centre; in true American frontier style. But in the end the rail passsed by on the west. Then the central area was given over to gardens which give the town a style all its own.

Pahiatua has become a favourite stopping place for travellers and many enjoy their picnics in the Main Street Gardens or opt for the delicious fare found in cafes and restaurants.

In short the town has become a focus of a district worth exploring at leisure.

The Main Street information centre will clue you up on attractions this district has to offer.

In particular Pahiatua rivers (The 5 Ms) are known throughout New Zealand. In their cool deep pools lurk fine brown trout and fishing is pleasurable for most of these waterways are easily accessible and largely uncrowded.

For much of the year these top class fishing spots are undiscovered territory. Their names are legendary: Makuri, Mangahao, Mangatainoka, Makakahi and Manawatu.

Within half an hour’s drive you’ll find 200 kilometres of fishable water.

At the end of October the reign of peace is dispelled. Anglers come from far and wide for the annual week-long trout fishing carnival.

Townsfolk and visitors rub shoulders at a market day characterised by its colourful entertainments, live music and retail stalls with bargains for everyone.

Pahiatua Museum in Sedcole Street opens on Sunday afternoons or by arrangement. Here you’ll find donated historical items and a fine pictorial display showing the Polish children’s arrival in 1944

A number of homes open their meticulously-kept gardens for an appreciative public. For those who wander further afield there are fascinating walks; notably the Makuri Gorge Walk and Tararua Walks reached from known access points.

The accommodation is geared to individual and family needs and a gamut of opportunities are offered by motels, homestays, farmstays, backpackers lodges and budget-conscious camping grounds.


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