Bell Block, New Zealand

Bell Block is a town in Taranaki, New Zealand. State Highway 3 runs through it. It is 6 km north-east of the centre of New Plymouth and 1 km from the outer edge of New Plymouth at Waiwhakaiho. Waitara is about 9 km to the north-east. New Plymouth Airport is located immediately to the north-east of Bell Block.[1][2]

Bell Block
Bell Block
Coordinates: 39°1′48″S 174°8′43″E
CountryNew Zealand
DistrictNew Plymouth District

The population was 5,277 in the 2013 census, an increase of 1212 from 2006. It has 7.1 per cent of the New Plymouth District's population. The median age is 36.8 years, below the median age for the district of 40.6[3]


The land was purchased in November 1848 by Dillon Bell from the Puketapu iwi. The initial purchase was 1,500 acres (610 ha) but more land was added subsequently. Disagreements over the sale of the land contributed to the First Taranaki War.[4]

A stockade was built to protect local settlers in 1860. Some of the earthworks continued until 1972 when a hotel was built on the site.[5]

Much of New Plymouth's heavy and medium industry is situated around Bell Block, which led to heavy traffic congestion. Construction of an arterial bypass of the town commenced in late 2006.[6] A previously unknown Māori site was discovered during site investigations and was excavated by archaeologists prior to construction.[7]


Muru Raupatu marae and meeting house is a meeting place for the Puketapu hapū.[8][9]

Features and attractions

The Waipu Lagoons are North Taranaki's only wetland area. The lagoons are home to a variety of wildlife, and are an important natural home for the endangered Australasian bittern.[10]

In December 2014 the northern end of New Plymouth's coastal walkway was extended from Hickford Park, Bell Block through to Tirimoana Crescent, making it possible to cycle or walk from Bell Block into central New Plymouth.[11]

The construction of Taranaki's first world-class BMX facility began in Bell Block in July 2015 and was completed in early 2016.[12]

The BMX track is the latest addition to the Bell Block cycle park, which includes a 1.75 km closed road circuit with two separate 1 km loops and a 333-meter velodrome.[13] The cycle park also has a collection of tracks for children including a miniature town route with traffic lights, a roundabout, railway crossing, accessible car parks, pedestrian crossing and speed bumps, all scaled down to 60 per cent of the original size, to help teach children safety while cycling.[14]


Bell Block School and Puketapu School are coeducational full primary (years 1-8) schools with decile rating of 5 and 4, and rolls of 297[15] and 246,[16] respectively. Bell Block School celebrated the 150th anniversary of education in Bell Block in 2006.[17] The present school dates from 1872. Puketapu School was built in 1980.[18]


  1. Peter Dowling (editor) (2004), Reed New Zealand Atlas, Reed Books, pp. map 34, ISBN 0-7900-0952-8CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  2. Roger Smith, GeographX (2005), The Geographic Atlas of New Zealand, Robbie Burton, pp. map 85, ISBN 1-877333-20-4
  3. Statistics New Zealand 2013 census, QuickStats about Bell Block,}
  4. Bartle, Rhonda (23 December 2005), Conflict and Protest - The Bell Block - Francis Dillon Bell, Puke Ariki, archived from the original on 7 October 2008
  5. Ron Lambert and Gail Henry (2000), Taranaki, An Illustrated History, Auckland, N.Z.: Reed, p. 55, ISBN 0-7900-0727-4
  6. Construction to start this week on Bell Block:
  7. "NZ Archaeology News". Archived from the original on 2008-08-07. Retrieved 2008-07-14.
  8. "Te Kāhui Māngai directory". Te Puni Kōkiri.
  9. "Māori Maps". Te Potiki National Trust.
  11. "New Plymouth District Council". Archived from the original on 2011-12-07. Retrieved 2015-11-25.
  12. Taranaki Daily News
  13. "Sport Taranaki". Archived from the original on 2015-11-25. Retrieved 2015-11-25.
  14. "Taranaki Daily News". Archived from the original on 2015-11-25. Retrieved 2015-11-25.
  15. "Te Kete Ipurangi - Bell Block School". Ministry of Education.
  16. "Te Kete Ipurangi - Puketapu School, New Plymouth" (about Puketapu School). Ministry of Education.
  17. "Jubilees & reunions: Bell Block School 150th Reunion", Education Gazette New Zealand, 84 (6), 11 April 2005, archived from the original ( Scholar search) on October 16, 2008
  18. History of the School, Bell Block School, archived from the original on 2002-12-08

Further reading

General historical works

  • History of Bell Block roads and streets, Bell Block, [N.Z.]: n.p., n.d.
  • T.U.C. study on population in Bell Block, New Plymouth, [N.Z.]: Taranaki United Council, c. 1984

Clubs and organisations

  • Bellini, Bruce; Lockstone, Brian (eds.) (2003), Bell Block: a local aviation history / researched and written by Elaine Priest, Bruce Bellini and Peter Dobson for the New Plymouth Aero Club (Inc.) 75th year anniversary 2003, New Plymouth, [N.Z.]: New Plymouth Aero Club, ISBN 0-473-09076-7CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)


  • Grayling, William Irwin (1862), The war in Taranaki, during the years 1860-61, New Plymouth, [N.Z.]: C.W. Woon, Herald Office
  • Wilberfoss, Peter (2004), Oropuriri, Bell Block, Taranaki: report on the historical context of archaeological site P19/262, Auckland, [N.Z.]: Peter Wilberfoss

New Zealand Wars

  • Maori wars: newspaper cuttings, 1858–1864., n.p.: n.p., 1858–1864
  • Grayling, William Irwin (1862), The war in Taranaki, during the years 1860–61, New Plymouth, [N.Z.]: C.W. Woon, Herald Office


  • Bell Block, Hillsborough, Tarurutangi jubilees, 1856–1959, Bell Block, [N.Z.]: Bell Block School, 1959
  • Bell Block, Hillsborough, Tarurutangi, 1856–1979: schools reunion, New Plymouth, [N.Z.]: Masterprint, 1979
  • Taylor, Alan G. (c. 2006), 2006 - celebrating 150 years of education at Bell Block, Taranaki: incorporating Bell Block School, 1856–2006+, Hillsborough School, 1879–1942, Tarurutangi School, 1880–1942, Eltham, [N.Z.]: Taylormade Publications, ISBN 0-473-11331-7
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