Events of Rotorua

Lots of things have happened that have had an impact on Rotorua. The following resources explore these events and can offer some different perspectives.

2021 photo of a group of people at Ōhinemutu on Waitangi Day. They hold flags including the Tino Rangatira flag, New Zealand flag, and for other countries.

Image: Waitangi Day 2021, Ōhinemutu by Dave Moulden. Courtesy of Rotorua Library.

Which events can I learn about?

Here are some events related to Rotorua you could find out about:


Arrival of Te Arawa waka at Maketū.

Find out about Te Arawa arrival at Maketū

Large Te Arawa group moves to Rotorua Lakes District.

Find out about Māori migration to Rotorua

Ngā Puhi attack Te Arawa on Mokoia Island.

Find out about the Musket Wars

Fenton Agreement signed, followed by the Thermal Springs District Act in 1881.

Find out about the Fenton Agreement

Rotorua township officially established.

Find out about the Rotorua township

Rotorua becomes a city.

Find out about Rotorua becoming a city

Tips: These are just some examples of events you could research. You may have something different you're interested in finding out about. Just use words related to the event as your search terms in the resources below.

Rotorua resources

Lots of things have happened that have had an impact on Rotorua. The following resources explore these events and can offer some different perspectives.

Pakiaka | Rotorua Heritage Online

A digital heritage platform managed by staff at Rotorua Library. It includes images, publications, maps, and audio-visual items.

  • Search using a word related to an event as your keyword.

  • You can use the Filter By to choose a date or type of item eg audio, story, and more.

Tips: Search words, or keywords, are the most important words in our question. Usually it’s better to leave out small words like ‘the’, ‘a’ and ‘of’ and just choose the main ones. We can always change our keywords or add more if we need to.

Rotorua Library Heritage Blog

Rotorua Library | Te Aka Mauri has put together a blog that has many articles written on Rotorua people, places and events. The articles are written by the library's Heritage and Research team.

  • Search your keywords using the site's search box. The search box is on the right-hand side of the screen Search This Blog.

  • Use the tags listed at the bottom of a blog post to find other relevant posts.

Te Arawa Digital Storehouse | He Pātaka Pūrākau

The Te Arawa Digital Storehouse contains a collection of stories about people, places and events that are applicable to Rotorua and the people of Te Arawa. Great Te Arawa Stories was developed by Ngā Pūmanawa e Waru Education Trust to introduce learners to Te Arawa stories. The website is managed by Rotorua Library | Te Aka Mauri.

  • Use the drop-down menu headings at the top of the page to explore the articles organised by time periods eg Pre-1700's, 1800's, 1900's, 2000's.

Rotorua Library | Te Aka Mauri

Rotorua Library has several Heritage Collections, which tell the stories of Te Arawa and Rotorua. These primary and secondary sources can only be viewed in the library.

  • Find the library at 1127 Haupapa Street in Rotorua.

  • The collections are in the Don Stafford Room and Community Archive on the second floor.

General New Zealand websites

These are websites which have information about all of New Zealand. They also have good information about the history of events that happened in Rotorua.

Te Ara: Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Te Ara is an excellent starting point for all questions about Rotorua. If we scroll down to the bottom of the page we can see that the website belongs to the Ministry for Culture & Heritage, so the information is well-researched and reliable.

  • To find information about Rotorua select Sections, then Places.

  • From here look down the page and select Volcanic Plateau, and then Volcanic Plateau region.

  • Or you can search using a keyword related to something that happened in Rotorua.

Tips: We like sites like this because they’re reliable. You can tell because of their web address – they have either .govt or .ac, meaning they are from government or educational organisations. They’re also New Zealand sites, so relevant for us.


NZHistory is a great website for information about Aotearoa New Zealand, including Rotorua. If we go all the way down the page we can see that the website belongs to the Ministry for Culture & Heritage, so the information is well-researched and reliable.

  • Enter a keyword in the search box eg something related to an event.

  • Choose an article to read.

Papers Past

Papers Past is a searchable collection of early New Zealand newspapers (19th and 20th centuries), letters, diaries, magazines, books and Parliamentary Papers digitised by the National Library of New Zealand and partners.

  • Select Newspapers, then explore By Region and Bay of Plenty.

  • The Hot Lakes Chronicle is the earliest known Rotorua newspaper in existence. A selection of papers are available from 1895-1910.

  • Rotorua stories may also be covered in the Bay of Plenty Times.

  • Or you can search using words related to something that happened, and use the date filter to get fewer results.

Tips: If your keyword doesn’t work, try thinking of other words you could use. Sometimes there are different names or spellings for words. Or they could have changed over time.

The Aotearoa History Show

This video podcast from Radio New Zealand tells the story of Aotearoa New Zealand from when the land was formed to today.

  • Select an episode to watch or listen to.

  • Look under the video for the topics that the podcast covers.


This is a search site that focuses on Aotearoa New Zealand's history and brings together results from lots of different websites such as New Zealand libraries, museums, universities, and government sites all at once.

  • Use search words about people, places or events.

  • You can view a range of videos, audio, articles and images, and more on your topic.

Te Arawhiti | The Office for Māori Crown Relations

This government website has information about Treaty of Waitangi settlements.

  • Select Te Kāhui Whakatau (Treaty Settlements).

  • Then choose Find a Treaty settlement.

  • Look down the page to find the Deeds of Settlement for the iwi you're looking for.

  • The summary documents are good to start with and have an overview and historical background.

28th Māori Battalion

Launched in 2009 by the Ministry of Arts, Culture and Heritage this site is a record of honour and information about the Māori Battalion's contribution to Aotearoa New Zealand in World War One and World War Two.

  • To learn more about the history of the 28th Māori Battalion navigate to

    Story of the 28th.

  • You can search the Battalion roll using the search box on the homepage. You can also browse the roll; soldiers are listed alphabetically by surname.

Tips: Websites that have .org or .net in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About this site link on the website, if you can find one. That can tell you what the organisation’s mission and values are.

Rārangi Kōrero | New Zealand Heritage List

This is part of the Heritage New Zealand website. It is a record of place-based heritage in New Zealand.

  • To browse places, under Local Authority select Rotorua District.

  • Then select the Show listings button to see all the places.

  • Heritage registered properties and sites will be listed by the map. You can also navigate using the map and select heritage sites.

  • Here you will find information on heritage sites, such as Rotorua Government Gardens Historic Area and the Blue Baths.


There are a number of books that have been written about Rotorua history - check out your school library or local public library to see what they have there.

Here are a few recommended titles:

More about Rotorua

People of Rotorua

Here are some sources you could look at if you'd like to find out about individual people or groups of people from Rotorua.

Learn about people of Rotorua

Places of Rotorua

There are many places that are significant to Rotorua including lakes, geothermal wonders, mountains, pā settlements, and more.

Learn about places of Rotorua