With its fascinating history and rich culture, you can find Pukerau just a short drive from Gore.
- Population: 227
Did you know?
- New Zealand’s first female Prime Minister Dame Jenny Shipley grew up in Pukerau. She has stayed connected to the District throughout her life.
- Pukerau’s red tussock reserve is the largest area in the District of significant indigenous vegetation and habitats for indigenous fauna.
- The Norton Brick and Tile Company, founded in Pukerau in 1880, supplied products throughout the south for 138 years.
Pukerau is well known for its strong community. Even those who leave retain a close bond with the area through extended family, the primary school or contributing to community projects.
Community is still the backbone of Pukerau today.
Camp Columba, a camp for youth founded on strong Christian principles, continues to provide adventure programmes in its 65th year.
Pukerau is surrounded by a strong rural sector, which feeds into Southland’s economy. The ownership of many farms is intergenerational, such are the strong ties to the wider Pukerau area.
Not to shy away from additional community endeavours, locals are strongly represented in the local fire brigade and rugby teams.
In conjunction with the Gore District Council, the community stepped up to preserve and restore the Pukerau cemetery, proving volunteerism as alive and well in the town.
The beginnings of the township date back to 1876 when Pukerau established itself as one of the main railway and agriculture hubs of the time.
Originally the valley was called the not-so-appealing name of The Swamp. However, in the 1860’s people began referring to it as Taylor’s Creek. This was met with confusion at the time as there were already many ‘Taylor’s Creeks’ in the south. As a result, people suggested using the Māori name for the area instead. And so Pukerau as we know it now came to light!
A History of Logistics
Until roading was established, there was no need for vehicles, horsemen or walkers to pass through Pukerau. The formation of roading was an incredibly valuable step in the town’s progress, allowing settlers and the community to genuinely prosper.
Seeing the value in roading, the railway was built. The main trunk line is still in use today. The railway installed great confidence in the prospects for Pukerau, allowing businesses to open and flourish. Many would continue for generations past the 19th century.
A gazetteer published many years ago, “Pukerau has a post and telegraph office, railway station, Presbyterian Church, Roman Catholic Chapel, two stores, a public school, an athenaeum, and a public hall.”
The perfect small township some might say.
Philosophers tell us people are often happier in a small town rather than a big city, so on this count, the residents of Pukerau were fortunate.
One of the town’s most notable businesses, Norton’s Brick and Tile Company, was founded in 1880 by John Norton.
Prior to closure, Norton’s carried New Zealand’s oldest quarry licence for a company still being owned and operated by the same family. To find or repurpose a Norton’s brick in the District today is thought to be a rarity.