Westport, New Zealand
Westport (Māori: Kawatiri) is a town in the West Coast region of the South Island of New Zealand. It is on the northern bank and at the mouth of the Buller River, close by the prominent headland of Cape Foulwind. It is connected via State Highway 6 with Greymouth, 100 kilometres (62 mi) to the south, and with Nelson 222 kilometres (138 mi) in the northeast, via the Buller Gorge.
The town is thought to have been named after Westport, County Mayo in Ireland, although the choice of name was no doubt also guided by the town's location. The population of the Westport urban area was 4,035 in the 2013 census, an increase of 138 from 2006. Including the surrounding area of Orowaiti, the 2013 population was 4,755. The Buller District had a population of 10,473 in 2013.
There is evidence that Māori settlers lived in the Buller (Kawatiri) area from very early on. The settlers appeared to live mostly coastal lives, though they explored the mountains for pounamu (jade or greenstone), which they then traded with other iwi.
The first wave of European settlers came to Westport in 1861 as gold miners, and the first European vessel known to have entered the river was the sealing schooner Three Brothers in 1884. The 1880s saw many exploratory parties of geologists and surveyors combing the area for the presence of valuable resources and taking the measure of the land. Amongst them were Charles Heaphy, William Fox and Thomas Brunner. While gold brought initial interest to the area, and for example, led to large areas of the coastal areas (covered by sediment from the river) being dredged for the valuable mineral, the area soon became much more famous for coal mining, still a dominant concern in the region today.
Westport was administrated as part of the Nelson Province from 1853 to 1876.
The first railway of the area in 1864[failed verification] ran from Westport 18 kilometres (11 mi) to the coal fields, most of them north of town. The first section of railway from Westport to Fairdown via Sergeants Hill opened on 31 December 1875; this line ultimately reached Seddonville in 1895 and was known as the Seddonville Branch. From this beginning, an isolated network of branch lines was developed and it was not linked to the national network until the completion of the Stillwater–Westport Line through the Buller Gorge in 1942.
Westport has been damaged by several earthquakes, the worst the 1929 Murchison earthquake, in which several buildings collapsed, including the post office tower. The town now has a number of Art Deco buildings that were constructed after the earthquake.
The Westport climate is strongly influenced by the high amount of precipitation from the Tasman Sea, with all months except February being rather wet on average. Despite very high annual rainfall, Westport is often prone to drought and conservation measures are sometimes triggered. While colder than the more northern parts of New Zealand, average temperature changes over the year are not extreme.
|Climate data for Westport|
|Average high °C (°F)||20
|Average low °C (°F)||12.4
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||189
|Source: NIWA Climate Data|
Economic activity is based around fishing, coal mining and dairy farming. Historically, gold mining was a major industry, and coal mining was much more extensive than today (especially in terms of employment numbers). However, the region still is home to New Zealand's largest opencast mining operation in Stockton. Some native forest logging occurred in the area until cessation around 1999. The Holcim company had a large cement plant in the southwest side of town until its closure on 30 June 2016.
Tourism has some famous destinations in this area, such as the Oparara Basin Arches, and Cape Foulwind with its large fur seal colony (on Tauranga Bay and Buller Bay as well). For other wildlife such as whales and dolphins:
Rafting and jetboating in the Buller Gorge are also popular. Many South Island visitors do however pass by this quieter area, opting instead to go to Abel Tasman National Park, to Hanmer Springs or, if they do visit the West Coast, to Greymouth and the Fox- and Franz Josef glaciers further south. Westport is also a base for trips to Karamea, with the only road access to the area running north from near Westport.
The town used to have one cinema/theatre, the St James Theatre, able to seat 424 patrons for film screenings, theatre productions or other activities. After being found structurally unsound, the theatre had to be demolished. A new theatre has since opened. The NBS theatre has two movie theatres, one which seats 55 people and a boutique theatre that seats approximately 20 people. This theatre also has a large facility with seating for approximately 370 people and a stage for performing.
Westport Airport is a small airport. It was formerly served twice daily on weekdays and daily in the weekend by Air New Zealand from Wellington, and prior to that, flights to Christchurch and Hokitika were also operated. The Air New Zealand service from Wellington service ceased in April 2015 and its place was taken by Sounds Air.
The township also has a links-style, 18-hole, par-72 golf course. The course measures around 5,600 metres (18,400 ft) with medium to narrow fairways and small "target" greens.
The Pulse Energy Recreation Centre (originally named the Solid Energy Centre), a sports complex, was opened on 18 April 2009.
Te Taha o Te Awa Marae is based at Westport. It is a marae (tribal meeting ground) of Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō and its Pūaha Te Rangi hapū, and includes a wharenui (meeting house), also called Te Taha o te Awa.
Buller High School is a secondary (years 9–13) school with a roll of 354. The school celebrated its 75th anniversary in 1997 but also claims to have been operating for over 100 years, due to its connection to earlier secondary schooling in the district.
All these schools are coeducational. All have a decile rating of 4, except Buller High School, which has a decile of 3. School rolls are as of March 2019.
- "Subnational Population Estimates: At 30 June 2018 (final)". Statistics New Zealand. 15 November 2018. Retrieved 21 November 2018.
- West Coast places - Westport Simon Nathan, Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, updated 3-Mar-09
- 2013 Census QuickStats about a place : Westport Urban
- 2013 Census QuickStats about a place : Orowaiti
- 2013 Census QuickStats about a place : Buller District
- History (from the Buller District Council website)
- Welcome to the Buller District (from the 'Buller Community Development Company Ltd' website)
- Westport Harbour (PDF) (from the Transactions and Proceedings of the Royal Society of New Zealand, 1868-1961)
- "Climate Data". NIWA. Retrieved 2 November 2007.
- Stockton (Opencast) (from the Solid Energy website)
- Carroll, Joanne (26 May 2016). "Job losses for Westport Harbour when Holcim closes". Stuff.
- West Coast - History (from the Tourism New Zealand website)
- Coaltown Museum (official museum website)
- Theatres (from the Buller District Council website)
- Westport (from the Buller District Council website)
- Harbour (from the Buller District Council website)
- New Zealand, NZ, Golf Course Regions
- "Te Kāhui Māngai directory". tkm.govt.nz. Te Puni Kōkiri.
- "Māori Maps". maorimaps.com. Te Potiki National Trust.
- Education Counts: Buller High School
- Centennial Committee (1997). 75 years of memories 1922-1997 Westport Technical High School, Westport Technical College, Buller High School.
- "Welcome to Buller High School". Buller High School. Retrieved 19 July 2008.
- Education Counts: Westport North School
- Education Counts: Westport South School
- Illsley, Amber Jo (1992). Westport North Primary School Jubilee and reunion 1942-1992.
- Jubilee Committee (1991). Westport South School 50th Jubilee 1941-1991.
- Education Counts: St Canice's School
- "Education Review Report: Saint Canice's School". Education Review Office. December 2007.
- "St Canice's School Westport". New Zealand Tablet. 12 January 1883.
- "Directory of Schools - as at 3 April 2019". New Zealand Ministry of Education. Retrieved 9 May 2018.