Wairau Valley

Wairau Valley is the valley of the Wairau River in Marlborough, New Zealand and also the name of the main settlement in the upper valley. State Highway 63 runs through the valley. The valley opens onto the Wairau Plain, where Renwick and Blenheim are sited.[1][2] The AlpineWairau Fault runs along the length of the valley.[3]

Wairau Valley
Wairau Valley
Coordinates: 41°33′56″S 173°31′44″E
CountryNew Zealand

According to the 2013 New Zealand census, Wairau Valley has a population of 1,959, an increase of 69 people since the 2006 census. There were 1,008 males and 954 females. Figures have been rounded and may not add up to totals.[4][5]

Wairauite is an iron-cobalt alloy which is named after the valley.[6]


J. S. Cotterell surveyed the Wairau Valley in November 1842, and reported it contained rich land.[7] Settlers from Nelson, led by Arthur Wakefield, tried to take possession of the land but the Ngāti Toa, led by Te Rauparaha and Te Rangihaeata objected. The dispute escalated into the Wairau Affray at Tuamarina on 23 June 1843, in which 22 settlers and four Māori and were killed. An enquiry held in 1844 by Governor Robert FitzRoy decided that the settlers were in the wrong.[8]

In November 1846, Nelson farmers Nathaniel Morse and John Cooper drove sheep into the Wairau valley[9] and established settlements. Governor Sir George Grey purchased the land in the same year, but legal title to the land for the settlers was sorted out later.[10]

In the 1855 Wairarapa earthquake, the eastern end of the Wairau valley subsided by over a metre.[11]


Wairau Valley School is a coeducational full primary (years 1–8) school with a roll of 43 students as of March 2019.[12][13] A school first opened in the Wairau valley in 1861.[14]


Parerarua Marae is located in Wairau Valley. It is a marae (meeting ground) of Ngāti Rārua and includes the Parerarua wharenui (meeting house).[15][16]


  1. Peter Dowling (editor) (2004). Reed New Zealand Atlas. Reed Books. pp. map 59. ISBN 0-7900-0952-8.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  2. Roger Smith, GeographX (2005). The Geographic Atlas of New Zealand. Robbie Burton. pp. map 138. ISBN 1-877333-20-4.
  3. Marlborough Historical Society (2005). Click - A Captured Moment - Marlborough's Early Heritage. p. 16. ISBN 0-473-10475-X.
  4. 2013 Census QuickStats about a place  : Wairau North
  5. 2013 Census QuickStats about a place  : Wairau South
  6. "Mineral names – 2". Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand.
  7. "Thomas Brunner, Nelson and the West Coast". Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand.
  8. "The struggle to survive: 1840–1865". Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand.
  9. McKinnon, Malcolm (13 July 2012). "Marlborough region - Grazing and farming". Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 21 August 2013.
  10. A. D. McIntosh, ed. (1940). Marlborough - A Provincial History. pp. 93, 131–134.
  11. "The 1855 Wairarapa earthquake". Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand.
  12. "Directory of Schools - as at 3 April 2019". New Zealand Ministry of Education. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  13. Education Counts: Wairau Valley School
  14. A. D. McIntosh, p 340
  15. "Te Kāhui Māngai directory". tkm.govt.nz. Te Puni Kōkiri.
  16. "Māori Maps". maorimaps.com. Te Potiki National Trust.
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