Opononi & Omapere
|District||Far North District|
The combined population of Opononi and Omapere was 477 in the 2006 Census, a decrease of 117 from 2001.
The first European settler in the Omapere area was John Martin, who arrived in the Hokianga Harbour in 1827. In 1832 Martin purchased land on the flat area, along the beach at Omapere. In 1838 Martin extended his land purchase to the Hokianga Harbour's South Head, where he established a signal station to guide ships crossing the challenging harbour entrance. The signal station remained in operation until 1951.
In 1869, a bush licence was granted to Charles Bryers at Omapere. In the mid 1870s, a liquor licence was then given to the establishment called the 'Heads'. This later became the 'Travellers Rest'. By 1876 the farm of John Martin had become the township of Pakia. It was home to a hotel, two stores, several houses and a school house. The name Omapere began to be used more frequently and became Omapere by residents agreement in 1874.
In 1855, John Webster, who had arrived in New Zealand in 1841, bought 700 acres of rough land at Opononi and established a homestead and pastoral farm which he developed into a showplace, entertaining vice-royalty several times. He also built a wharf, gum-store and a trading store. In 1894, Webster put the house and farm on the market. The store and gum store were taken over by Alfred Sprye Andrewes who later converted the gum store into a two storey hotel.
The Opononi Post and Telephone was opened in 1892 and operated until 1989. The road between Opononi and Omapere was developed in the mid 1930s leading to ribbon development. In 1959, a fire destroyed the Opononi Hotel and Opononi Store.
The first school was the Pakia Native School which opened in 1874 under the Native School Act. In 1912 the school was renamed Omapere. Opononi did not have a school of its own and children either went to Pakia/Omapere School, or after it opened in 1909, to Pakanae School. In 1974, the newly built Opononi Area School replaced both.