Topic: Rotorua, Meaning of

Topic type:

A booklist

origin of name and full name


  • Landmarks of Te Arawa Vol 1 by Don Stafford, p 109

"It's origins refer to the large lake lying in a basin-like depression which was discovered by Ihenga and named in honour of his father-in-law Kahumatamomoe"

  • Treasury of Maori exploration by A W Reed, (story of Ihenga and Kahumatamomoe p 134-140)
  • Legends of Rotorua and the hot lakes by A W Reed, p43-47

Rotorua Resources in the Don Stafford Room, An incomplete list 

General History Books

v     Te Arawa / by Don Stafford

v     A history of Rotorua / by Enid Tapsell (mostly up to 1900)

v     The founding years in Rotorua / by Don Stafford (up to 1900)

v     The new century in Rotorua / by Don Stafford (1900 to 1986)

v     Rotorua 1880-1980 (articles by different authors on specific topics)

v     The romantic past of Rotorua / by Don Stafford (brief, illustrated history)

 Tarawera Eruption

There are a lot of books on The Tarawera Eruption. Do a subject search on the Library catalogue under Mount Tarawera – Eruption, 1886. Watch out for books that may not be borrowed. Some useful titles are:

 Ø      Tarawera and the Terraces / by Philip Andrews.  A good general book for school projects

Ø      Tarawera : the volcanic eruption of 10 June 1886 / by R F Keam. The most detailed book on the subject.

Ø      Tarawera eruption centennial exhibition 1886-1986. Lots of illustrations

 How Rotorua got it’s name, and what it’s full name is?

q       Te Arawa. Chapter 1

q       The founding years in Rotorua. Chapter 1.

q       Legends of Rotorua and the hot lakes / by A W Reed

q       He korero purakau mo na taunahanahataunga  a nga tupuna = Place names of the ancestors, a Maori oral history atlas. Bilingual account of Ihenga and his travels.

q       Treasury of Maori exploration / A W Reed

Various books on place names include the full name including Landmarks of Te Arawa. Volume 1.

 Local area histories

There has not been much published on Rotorua suburbs and individual parts of the district. One usually  has to gather little bits of information from lots of sources and put them together. Look in the indexes of general books as well as the sources below. When searching the Public Access Catalogue start with specific terms and then try more general ones.

  • Folders of clippings compiled by Don Stafford and Norma Evans. Many of these have been indexed. Ask staff to look up the Rotorua Index.
  • The newspaper index on the public access catalogue covers from February 1993 to mid 1996. There are a few older articles and some articles cover history. One then has to look up the newspapers on microfiche to see the actual articles.
  • Landmarks of Te Arawa. Volume 1. Rotorua / by Don Stafford
  • Landmarks of Te Arawa. Volume 2. Rotoiti, Rotoehu, Rotoma / by Don Stafford.
    These books list Maori sites around the lakes. The amount of information about individual sites varies considerably. Use the maps at the back as an index to make sure you look up all the names in an area.
  • Rotorua District Federation of Country Women’s Institutes : a history of our area, 1990.  Includes short (1-2 pages) histories of Owhata, Lynmore, Ngongotaha, Waipouri, Wakite Valley.
  • Rural community, Rotorua, 1920 / by Peggy Ford Allen. Includes information about the Old Taupo Road-Springfield Road-Pukehangi Road-Clayton Road area, Tihiotonga, Mamaku and Paradise Valley. This is indexed on The Rotorua Index at the desk..
  • Rotorua People 1880s to 1940s living south of the old railway : Glenholme area to Whakarewarewa / by Peggy Ford Allen. This is indexed on the Rotorua Index at the Desk
  • Mamaku : 100 years.
  •  Ngapuna : the past and the outlook for the future. 1990  Has a brief history at the front.
  • The incoming tide : the return of people to the Tarawera area / by J Morris Scobie.  Tarawera after the eruption
  • Mokoia : a brief history / by Philip Andrews 
  • School histories can be useful sources of information about the surrounding district.  Do a subject keyword search on the public access catalogue using “schools Rotorua” to get a list. 
  • Rotorua legend.  An historical periodical that came out 1960-1963. There is a brief index at the Desk.
  • West Rotoiti News  Periodical that came out 1985-1988 focusing on the Mourea-Okere Falls area. Contains a mixture of current events with some historical material. Not indexed.


Maps in the Library include:

¨      Topographical series 260 for the middle of the North Island

¨      Parks including Kaimai-Mamaku and Whakarewarewa. Often have useful information on the back

¨      Lakes, mostly bathymetric

¨      Forestry

¨      Geology and geophysics

¨      Farm location maps

¨      Streets

¨      Census boundaries

¨      The Rotorua District Plan has maps showing sections and planning zones.


Rotorua District Plan. Appendix A. Natural and cultural heritage inventory   Includes historic buildings and sites and notable trees.



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