Patea (/pɑːˈtɛər/ pah-TAIR) is the third-largest town in South Taranaki, New Zealand. It is on the western bank of the Patea River, 61 kilometres north-west of Whanganui on State Highway 3. Hawera is 27 km to the north-west, and Waverley 17 km to the east. The Patea River flows through the town from the north-east and into the South Taranaki Bight.
The population in the 2013 Census was 1,098.
Patea, called Carlyle or Carlyle Beach for a time by European settlers, was originally nearer the Patea River mouth than the present town. During the New Zealand land wars Patea was an important military settlement. General Cameron's force arrived at the river mouth on 15 January 1865 and constructed redoubts on both sides of the river.
Patea became a market town when hostilities ended. 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 began.
The Marton-New Plymouth railway line 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 name Patea.
In the 1920s Patea was the largest cheese exporting port in the world. The Grader Cool Store received cheese for grading from all over South Taranaki and as far south as Oroua Downs near Himatangi. After grading it was loaded into coastal ships at the grader wharf for transport to Wellington where it was transhipped into overseas ships for export.
The port closed in July 1959. Patea became known in 1984 as the home of singer Dalvanius Prime and the Patea Māori Club. Their single, "Poi E", indicated renewed impetus in contemporary Māori popular music.
The town again came to national attention in 1982 when the main employer, the Patea Freezing Works, was closed.
Patea has retained a strong community focus and enjoys many services including a well-resourced medical centre, public swimming pool and trust-owned rest home. The town is also the location of Aotea Utanganui - Museum of South Taranaki.
The breakwaters at Patea were started in 1878 and are being refurbished by the South Taranaki District Council.
Patea and surrounding community has a South Taranaki District Council LibraryPlus, which provides a full library service and Council-related services, including dog registration, payment of rates, and building permit enquiries. Other services include a Tot Time for the under 5s, a regular crossword morning and a book club for intermediate and high school children. The LibraryPlus has six APN computers, offering free internet and Skype.
Several kilometres 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, on the cliffs overlooking the Tasman Sea. He crowned his professional career by winning the U.S. Open in June 2005, and three months later the HSBC World Match Play Championship.
Offical history of the county of Patea
1937, English, Book, Illustrated edition: Offical history of the county of Patea : compiled from county and official records and from personal experiences of pioneer families in the district / by C.J. Roberts. (Cyril John), 1899?-1960.
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