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The Kāpiti Coast has a rich history from Māori settlement to when Kāpiti Island was one of the largest whaling stations in New Zealand or when 15,000 US Marines trained here during World War II.
In the 1820s, Kāpiti Island was the fortress and trading base of Te Rauaparaha, sometimes called the 'Napoleon of the South Pacific'. From his island stronghold, he controlled the lower part of the North Island.
Because of its proximity to passing European ships the island became one of the largest whaling bases in New Zealand in the 1830s. At its peak there were five whaling stations on the island. You can see many artefacts from the whaling period if you visit the island.
Kāpiti was reserved as a forest reserve and bird sanctuary in 1897. On the island, you can find the oldest building in New Zealand dedicated to conservation.
This Anglican church is an iconic part of the story of Māori-European interaction in the lower North Island. Rangiatea was built under the direction of the chief Te Rauparaha and English missionary Octavius Hadfield.
Built in the 1840s, the church is the oldest Māori Anglican church in New Zealand and incorporates Māori design features in the interior of the church giving it an appearance unlike any other. The church burnt down in 1995, but was entirely rebuilt by 2003.
Open for viewing Monday to Friday 9.30am – 1.30pm.
33 Te Rauparaha Street, Ōtaki
St Mary's, Ōtaki is the oldest Catholic church still in use in New Zealand. Built in 1859, the church is surrounded by an interesting array of traditional Māori buildings, wooden colonial buildings and plaster building. The church interior has a lovely artwork featuring Kāpiti Island with Māori art elements.
4 Convent Road, Ōtaki
During World War II, 15,000 US Marines were stationed near Paekākāriki where they trained for the war in the Pacific. Camps were set up at Mackay's Crossing in Queen Elizabeth Park, Paekākāriki and Whareroa Farm.
There is a memorial to the Marines in the park, as well as a collection of huts from the war and an outdoor exhibition telling the story of the Marines in Kāpiti.
An annual commemoration is held by the Kāpiti US Marines Trust.
One of the most dramatic landmarks on the Kāpiti Coast is this 14m high statue of the Virgin Mary on the knoll above St Patrick's Church.
One of the largest in the world of its kind, the statue was commissioned in 1958 to mark the 100th anniversary of the apparition of the Virgin Mary at Lourdes. When floodlit, the statue's sparkling halo is visible for kilometres.
If you visit, you also get a great 'bird-eye view' of the town and coast.
Entrance between 14 and 20 Tongariro Street, Paraparaumu